Thirty Years

Thirty Years

Tiananmen Square 2009
On the day of the twentieth anniversary
I weave my way through crowds
Of Chinese soldiers sharply uniformed
Armed, unsmiling with their automatic rifles
Shouting Mandarin, surly
Screaming orders, angry
Tearing bags from anyone suspicious
Dumping their contents on the ground
Backed by row on row of buses
With screened, dark tinted windows
Barely hiding hundreds more
Dressed in riot gear
With guns and shields and teargas ready
I grasp my sweaty U.S. passport

The University of British Columbia 1989
Wreathed around a TV
In the student union
Watching with the jamming crowd
Of Chinese students
Crying Mandarin, dismayed
Chopped words and anguish
Tiananmen Square unfolding
The coverage of killing protestors
Many of them college students
Has just begun

The University of Edinburgh 2019
I ride the elevator up
With Chinese students, smiling
Laughing Mandarin, animated
Music floating from their tongues
Earbuds hanging loose around their necks
Backpacks bouncing on their shoulders
With their laughter


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