In the year of the Dragon,
go to the China Star Restaurant
near the far end of Murray.
The waitress is beautiful
with warm ways.
Eschew the General Tso's
in favor of Peking duck.
She is slight with straight black hair.
Say to her,
"I am a sheep, elegant and creative.
You must be a snake, with your beauty."
(Ignore the stuff on the placemat
about the vanity and temper of the snake, for now.)
Tell her you are shy and prefer anonymity.
Say your number is 27
though it is really 21.
Say, zao can. That means "breakfast."
Tell her, Wo ai ni.
Above the plastic bricks
of the phony arch to the kitchen
LONG the Great Chinese Dragon
will roll his eyes.
Do not make eye contact.
Through the smell of sandalwood
and kerosene, you have just told her you love her.
She will say, "I'm sorry, Sir,
I grew up here in Greenfield,
attended Saint Rosalia's School.
I don't understand you."
Reply, Killing time voids opportunities.
Walt Peterson, a writer and teacher, lives in Squirrel Hill. He is writer in residence at State Correctional Institution Pine Grove and at Mount Alvernia with the Franciscan sisters. He teaches at the University of Pittsburgh's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. The Chinese New Year begins Sunday, Feb. 10.