If you wait until the sun goes down,
a thousand suns will rise.
Artificial, bright, igniting
tangled clouds in smoggy skies,
and flooding dingy streets
with fluorescent streams of light
that carry waves of people,
cresting, crashing, clashing
across mismatched sidewalks.
They speak in foreign tongues
that lick like wild flames
and burn with glowing strangeness
as cockroaches skulk and scurry
beneath makeshift stands
where pairs of busy hands
prepare the strangest foods,
from skewered squid and snakes
to crepes and pineapple cakes,
cubes of deep-fried tofu
and the freshest dragon fruit.
Watch them badger, hear them barter
over onyx rings and jade bangles
beside rose quartz beads that dangle
from scratched display cases.
The market throbs with energy,
a living entity that swallows me.
And when I think I've lost myself,
I focus on that giddy sound,
the universal language
that transcends all others.
They laugh, and I smile.
*Based on a night market I visited in Taiwan last year