Henan Haiku V
Stone-faced man standing
arms crossed, counting cars all day
at U-Smile shop next door.
This marks the fifth and final in my series of Henan Haiku. These five small poems are intended to form a vignette of life on the road in Henan Province, China. The words suggested themselves on a bus trip through the industrial sprawl that is so characteristic of that countryside, as monkey faced men and apartment holes slipped by, people caught in the small details of a daily routine: dirty trees, the three-wheeling, cardboard crushing piecemeal scene.
© E. C. Richardson
Say this city has ten million souls,
Some are living in mansions, some are living in holes…
— W.H. Auden
Auden may well have been describing Kaifeng with those words: a small city of some 10 million souls, east-central Henan Province, Yellow River country, P.R. C. One of seven ancient cities, once among the capitals of China, Kaifeng has its fair share of holes, of brokenness and poverty but also much of brightness and beauty. The provincial flower is the “ju gwaa” or Chrysanthemum, a flower native to Asia.
The annual Chrysanthemum Festival is one noticeable brightening of the yearly calendar. The streets are decked out with blooms of pink, yellow, purple and red. The businesses put out their potted specimens for display, and the city parks hold celebrations of floral cheer. There is much liveliness; less of the glum grey blocks and smoggy, sloping skies.