by Kassie Lamoreaux

*Honorable mention for poetry in the 2nd Annual Arizona Writer’s Conference.

Mongkok Street is congested

as a head cold you get when the seasons change,

the kind that makes it difficult to breathe or talk.

I am the only blonde,

and the only English speaker swimming in a sea

of limbs and honking horns.

It’s overly crowded.

Like that-guy-just-nearly-spit-on-my-shoe crowded, there’s no-

where-to-stand-so-keep-moving crowded, and let’s-build-shops-on-top-of-shops,buildings-on

top-of-buildings-because-there’s-no-where-else-to-build crowded.

I’m the only one standing on the street corner,

rereading the name Mongkok

on the sign above me,

confirming the one written on the smudged piece of paper shaking in my hands.

I don’t see a hotel.

My right hand clings to the handle of my red rolly,

Like pollution clings to the buildings.

People push past,

Rocking its body on its wheels.

Garbled words float in and out of my ears,

None of them directed to me.

My hair and shirt are sweat-wet.

I desperately want a shower, especially after the long van ride here.

The sun will probably disappear behind the sky

scrapers to be replaced with neon lights, soon.

I circle on my heels and gaze up for hotel names

until my eyes squint from too much sun.

I smell fish, grease and B.O.

I see people selling and buying panda-

bear key chains, brightly colored purses and hats, I-love-Hong-Kong-t-shirts,

red and gold jewelry and flip flops under gigantic Chinese lettered billboards.

A man in a business suit, talking on his cell phone, nudges

his way through and waves for a taxi.

Two skinny men smoking cigarettes scan me up

and down. They laugh and push each other into the Circle K.

I don’t want to be on Mongkok Street when it’s dark. Mom

and other family are worried about me being in China as it is.

This isn’t my first adventure away from home, and I’m excited, but it’s certainly the farthest

I’ve been. Maybe there is reason for some worry, especially

if I don’t find this hotel and have to

sleep on my suitcase next to the Mongkok Street sign.

I shift weight from one

foot to the other. I tighten my yellow

backpack with a quick yank.

My blue eyes search for another like them.

My ears strain for English.

I stare at the Mongkok sign,

inhale, and then start to wiggle my way

into the crowd to find answers at the Rolex shop.

Kassie Lamoreaux teaches English as a Second Language at Mesa Community College where she helps diverse students write academic paragraphs and essays. She’s currently studying creative writing at Mesa Community College. Kassie loves traveling, eating food, and playing the drums.