You wish the shave ice
would cool you more, chill you to the core,
maybe with the help of the shade
from these monkeypod trees, overarching,
well-shaped, older than I am, for sure,
so carefully kept.
We used to run around here, play games,
Chase Master, Red Rover, so far away
from caring about anything at all it doesn’t
even seem that happened in this lifetime.
God, the sun is so intense, this August heat
makes this a great place to melt ice,
or an old valentine tucked safely inside my shirt.
I can feel my face, beet red and sweaty,
shining on, a glimpse of that other life, a different path,
a sigh, a groan. Massive shade. A green world.
An old woman feeds the birds
crowding around her bench. You can tell
she has been doing this for a long time.
The birds know her well, eat from her hand,
perch on her shoulders.
A tiny boy tears through the flock
causing them to scatter, a clamor
of wings. He runs up and asks me
what flavor I bought. If my sister
were here, she’d scold him, tell him
not to scare the birds.
I look at his face, “Li hing,”
and picture a puzzled son
seeking some perfect answer.
* * * * *
I wish this shave ice would cool me
faster, and I’m glad for the shade
of this massive old monkeypod tree.
We used to run around here, play games
Chase Master, Red Rover, so long ago
it seems another life, one that happened
to someone else beneath this ancient tree.
I watch an old woman feed the pigeons
crowding around her like hungry children.
You can tell she’s been doing this a long time.
The birds eat from her hand, perch on her shoulder.
A tiny boy comes running and tears through
the flock causing them to scatter, a clamor of wings,
and the old woman cries out, not a scolding,
but a wail of grief for the frightening the birds.
Amazingly, the boy goes over and apologizes
to the woman, something you rarely see,
that awareness in someone this young
Then he comes up to me and oddly asks
if I’ll let him have some of my shave ice.
Such a strange request, I stare at him
and wonder if I could be seeing the next me.