Those mornings in the last days of December,
as the smog deepened over the mausoleum
& the ghost of the emperor’s first wife
lingered about the four gardens, weeping
over her dead child
until a solitary jogger tore the curtain of fog
with a flashlight, making her flee
through a chink in the heavy lid of the small red tomb,
I rose at dawn, washed my face with water
cold as needles & went to work, stomach taut
as deerskin stretched over the seat of a chair.