I have lived over there—
Walking to the muddy confluence to dig clams
From my windowless box house with neighbors on three sides
Along the little winding dirt road that wove the neighborhood
The children roamed the river across the street, climbing the rusty tank,
Finding spent bullet cartridges from the recent Korean War.
Upstream, women pounded laundry on rocks.
I come from there—
We waited in line in front of a spigot to fill the bucket.
We also lined up in front of the public outhouse.
I witnessed the mobs crowding the milk truck
Distributing reconstituted milk, hollering, waving their empty
Vessels. I stood watching the drama due to my allergy to dairy products.
I played hopscotch etched into the hardened dirt road
That disappeared during the monsoon.
I walked to the elementary school
Where I was introduced to books, papers, and crayons.
There I learned to read and write, which became a new obsession.
The new obsession quickly became a lifelong craving
Coloring the blank pages given. I learned how to please
Now, I reminisce about the times there,
Here sitting in front of the bow window.
The personal gratification from the deep valley the sun didn’t reach
Barely rose to see the colorful sunrise then.
Year of the Rabbit