OUTSIDE THE EMBASSY
They are statues side by side. The young guards, elevated slightly, to suggest who’s in charge.
The one with the rifle and bayonet could give anyone pause who might think otherwise,
with the sheen of a twelve-inch blade and its uncompromising glare paralyzed under a fierce August sun.
The cicadas throttle the air, chanting their summer war song to survive. Plane trees and yellow cinnamon
provide barely enough shade. No relief for the lonesome uniforms as the novice diplomats dismiss
the disgruntled foreigners who arrive too late to conduct their banal and unworldly business.
Arthur Solway is the founding director of James Cohan Gallery Shanghai, the first gallery from New York to establish itself in mainland China. He has also written poetry and essays, contributing to literary and cultural publications since 1978. Most recently his poems have appeared, or are forthcoming, in The Antioch Review, Boston Review, and Salmagundi. Shanghai has been his home since 2007.