On the names of things

Only when writing do I wonder about the names of things. I haven’t been writing so I haven’t been wondering about the names of things. Of course I have been writing, but not the kind of writing where I wonder about the names of things.


A young man squats out of the sun as he smokes and stares hardfaced through the glass fence of his balcony. The city is both ten stories below and stretching to the sky around him. The young man, barely a man, more a boy, rests his thin arms on his knees and lets the cigarette burn between his fingers. He wears shorts and a t-shirt that hangs loose around his neck and looks like he’s from, I don’t know, rural China, perhaps – somewhere he remembers as uncomplicated. I wonder if this way he sits, balancing on his toes and sitting on his haunches, has a name – in Chinese and if there is an acceptable English translation – so I can write it down and that would be my secret reason for writing this piece.