Afternoon, Perfectly Bright

Walking down the hutong lane,
I encounter a green-leafed archway
casting cool shade.

A small dog patters by,
passing a trio of wandering ducks.
Minnows flicker in a tub near splashing guppies.

Residents seated under an awning
fan themselves,
tracing the air with
broad, lazy strokes,
issuing a trail of leisure.

Nuts roasting in an outdoor pan
give rise to a powerful and inviting scent
that wafts along a darkened corridor,
drawing passers-by deeper into an unseen courtyard.

I pull away from the siren doorway
and plunge onward to encounter
sunlit patches
of warm, gray bricks.
Bicycles chatter along the road,
wheels turning, handlebar bells ringing.

The afternoon is
by the sound of small chimes.

I ride a light breeze to the end of the lane,
swallowed by air and time.
I alight onto solid ground,
then disappear into the thoroughfare beyond.