Poem with Sweet Bean Curd and Ringtones

The world's first ringtone was heard
in 1994: the opening bars of Johann

Sebastian Bach's Tocatta and Fugue in D
Minor
. Now each person in the family

and in every friend group can have
their own ringtone: crystals, bamboo;

wave, cosmic, classic. Or a crescendo
of Amazonian yells from the Wonder

Woman
soundtrack. But I want to know:
what sound would ring best to signal

danger, coming sorrow, the bill collector?
Early mornings before the fog lifted

from the streets in my hometown,
we'd hear the call of the itinerant

scissors-grinder, umbrella-mender,
bean-curd vendor—One messenger, one

unwinding call with linked syllables
singing of the blade, the broken

rib, the way sweetness coagulates
in its own messy syrups and vats.





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