Up it grew, slipping its verdant vines between crumbling stones and climbing for a view of the ancient city. Hibiscus protected the city alongside the march of tired watchmen. Flashes of bright red against gray. Clambering for a place in the sun. How could anyone doubt the strength of something so permanent? No one tells the flower that walls come down and that petals can be peeled away. Would it even matter? Birds and modernity flew over the fortress wall, so it was down with the old and up with the new. Maybe this path to the market was a prince’s bedroom. Maybe this curb was where a verse struck Yan Xiong. Oh, if only the ground beneath slick streets could tell us what once was enduring. Touch soft skin to pebbled history and know how we got here. We sip tea brewed from the life of hibiscus blooms and birds still fly over our walls. [Kathleen McCampbell]
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