Issue Twenty-Seven - Winter 2016

Chicken at the Top of the World

By Bob Buchanan

Camera safely beside me,
I sit with my guide in a small café
at the top of the world,
on the barren Tibetan Plateau
nestled among mountain peaks,
all much higher than Everest Base Camp,
and so numerous nobody bothers to name them.

At the next table, four mahjong players,
ubiquitous in Tibetan cafés,
barely notice as our lunch is served…
steaming hot chicken noodle soup,
family style in a huge blue bowl,
by all accounts the best east of Lhasa.

I stare at the chicken head
floating in clear amber broth,
surrounded by diced carrots
and chopped green onions.
Beak akimbo, red comb faded by the heat,
it stares right back at me…
never blinks, never blinks at all.

I stare at the yellowish forest
of boiled chicken feet,
claws clipped and sticking
every which way
out of the steaming broth,
just like the ghastly human hand
in the movie, Deliverance.
Frequent famine made its mark,
long before Chairman Mao.

Copyright Buchanan 2016