Study in Chinatown, San Francisco (1886) Edwin Deakin
by Adam Francis Cornford
for Genny Lim

Corner of Jackson and Dupont rough
awnings from crumbling masonry above
tall Chinese posters on crimson paper
alien then as messages from space
A merchant sells pots, pans, and shovels
imperturbably smoking a long pipe
sitting on a bench in baggy blue pants
his white sock-shoes resting on a box
scrawled with CHINESE MUST GO
Around the corner below a window
hung with more red banners inscribed
with the painter’s fake ideograms
white flowers bright in the windowbox
of the Union Chinese Mission School
a family mother father and little kid all
faceless in shadow and same baggy pants
is descending into a basement shop
under the faded signboard WING ON
and somehow in this little Orientalist
yet xenophobic exercise they do wing on
They are not going they’re arriving.