V  P  R

Contemporary Poetry and Poetics





Between bites of kiwi on Vero's beach,
my parents trip over each other's words
to repeat the story of being chased
through Hong Kong, how despite the heat,
Mother wore linen and clutched her hat
and gloves in one hand, and in the other,
the handle of a matching purse.
She likes to brag that Father balanced a dozen
Ferragamo bags as well as any Chinese
bent under a bamboo pole, dangling baskets of tea.

Father says they bought the shoes
for a song and he laughs
at the photos that fill our family
album, at the relentless flock of scrawny children,
palms open, who stalked the big Americans
down skinny streets and spit baseball chatter
like birdsong from mouths begging for change.

Mother says, Father didn't dare carry his wallet.
I didn't even pack a change purse. I hid
our money here. She points to the space
between her breasts.  Father laughs again,
You'd never feel one of those kids
pick your pocket. They were that good.

Mother suspects I've made a habit of pilfering
Chiclets, coins, and cigarettes
despite my allowance, but she keeps this
thought between us and leaves her purse
unattended, its steel mouth gaping. In spite of Father's
offhand comment, If you feed one,
they'll all want some, I rip off
thick slices of bread and toss crumbs at a gull.
An uproar of caw caw caw fills the sky:
dozens of birds swoop in and cover my shadow
in the sand.  Some are quick, peck the slightest gap
between my toes. Father shakes his head, says,
I wasn't kidding, honey. You'll be lucky
to get rid of them. They're as bad
as a murder of crows.


© by Chelle Miko


Contributor's note
Next page
Table of contents
VPR home page

 [Best read with browser font preferences set at 12 pt. Times New Roman]