Our tramp through China
came to end at the Great Wall.
And though it’s got that damn iconic rank,
it truly was an outstanding
as it bubbled from the peaks like History’s champagne.
We set up camp
and watched the sun
its head behind the tips of the West,
more than two millennia prior, as
Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi oversaw the build
of a fortress of farcical proportions,
as the Xiongnu to the North prepared invasion,
Rome prepared to split its cocoon.
We walked along a while.
Looking south, we felt tourists still,
but in the face of the formidable north
we had the strange sensation of feeling local.
We were tired but impassioned
then unexpectedly moved
as we took our backs to an undersized segment,
which for all we knew marked the bones
of half the poor wretches
from bringing to life
the outrageous magnum opus,
the now dormant reptile sprawled across Northern China.
—The nation’s true dragon.
A final speck of sun fell back;
an idling wasp withdrew within a crackling section.
following the first of the Dynasties
whose guardsmen lined every one of its towers,
after digging its ancient heels in the sands
of the Cultural Revolution
and clinging on to life,
after Rome’s capitulation,
the mammoth beast just lies silent,
on a small pension
of the odd tourist dollar.
But it never does go short
on providing the wasps
some shelter for the night.