Eleven days of silence
Is what she said
About the Buddhist monastery
In Tibet
She and her two companions
Had just come from
Hair legs and braided hair
Sleeping on concrete
Not speaking even once
Which for her
Must have been
Excruciatingly painful

She couldn’t really say
If she got in touch
With her inner self
The spiders creeping
Across her pampered flesh
Her more
Than the bowls of rice
She shared with monks
Who failed to dispel
Her web of illusion

That she is so much more
Jaded than the rest
After traipsing around the globe
For a few years now
Her next plan
On her journey in life
Is to head back to Singapore
And look for work as a whore
Well, she didn’t say it like that
She said she knew
A wealthy man there
And could perhaps
Get a job working for him
Can’t ever see herself
Going back to the states
Because people there
Too pretentious

The other American girl
Had long, golden hair
She talked about her desire
To join the Peace Corps
And help
Less sophisticated people
Get their act together

When I asked her
If she really perceived
This as helpful
She, of course
Felt completely justified
Interfering in other cultures
In the name of spreading
American know-how
To those who hate us
And burn our flag
But that wasn’t enough
She had to go even further
And tell me about the time
She spent in Yemen
After backpacking across Europe
And lived
As one of the local women would
And how
She missed it
And wanted to go back
I tried to be patient
But my politeness wore out
And so
I turned my attention
To the third one instead

Red hair so thick
You could see it bursting out
From the sides of her bikini bottom
Like crab legs
So thick and red
The kind which came
Halfway down her forehead
So that it was difficult to tell
Where her hairline ended
And her freckles began
Was from Australia

As I listened
To her stories of snorkeling in the bay
Watching for a shark fin
Cutting the water
As flaming colored fish swam by
I grew tired or something
And so
I walked back
To the thatched hut
And listened
To the rain of the orient
Against the lull of waves
Coming to shore
As I drifted off to sleep
With images of that girl
I saw at the Hong Kong Airport
Still fresh in my mind

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