Chinese New Year
Marcia LeBeau

This year all of China is celebrating
my birthday. After dinner I tell our cabdriver
to stop in Chinatown: I want a red bean bun.

I want the aftermath of fireworks to singe
our nose hairs as paper dragons snake
above us and lanterns stamped with birds,

flowers, and zodiac signs bob with our heads.
I’d like the arpeggio of dialect to baffle us
in the Year of the Rat. Ask if you think

I’m an Ox—patient, determined, never missing
a beat
. Wonder how Buddha chose his dozen
animals. Or how everyone in my high school class

could be a tennis pro, surgeon, hairstylist, or a rock
climber like the calendar predicts. But in reality,
we follow drunk tourists over a carpet of crushed

streamers to Bayard Street. The word Bakery flashes
in a greasy window and we walk into a den of yeasty buns
closeted in metal ovens. We sit on stools at the coffee-

stained counter, ask for the red bean bun they don’t
make. Order the yellow one instead. I look at you
and in that moment, I love New York and not
in a T-shirt sort of way.

Marcia LeBeau has been published or has work forthcoming in Handsome Journal, Poemeleon, Burningword Literary Journal, Crack the Spine Magazine, Inertia Magazine, and elsewhere. Marcia’s poems have appeared in Oprah’s O Magazine and have been read on the radio. She holds an MFA in poetry from the Vermont College of Fine Arts creative writing program. Marcia lives in South Orange, New Jersey where she plays viola in the local symphony and raises her two young sons. For more information, look for her here.