Broken Letters

I usually feel like a thief
when I walk through the Asian market.
The Asians, usually Korean, look at me like a tourist.
My guide is Japanese,
but they might not know that,
so it makes some kind of sense to feel
the way I did as a child, when it seemed that
all the clerks watched closely, like they knew
I would slide a candy bar into my pocket as soon as they turned their heads.

The goods are from many countries,
so I have to guess
which items she saw,
tagging along behind her mother as a child,
and which items are as new to her as they are to me.

I know, at least, what I enjoy:
kimchi, Pocky,
even fish, unless it’s been cooked.

I look up from the alluring red block, frozen tuna,
and see them:
other white people.

Americans, without a chaperone!
If I felt like a thief before,
I feel caught now.
Then I remember a saying about being seen in a porn shop—
anyone who sees you
is there too.

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