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September 26, 2022

Kabang

By Alexandra Queen

Once, when I was a small child barely walking
I saw what I imagined to be
       a beautiful turtle
I harpooned it!
swelling with pride
think of the feast!

It was a boot.
       a castaway from the white man's liners

my father consoled me
as I tried not to weep:

       The same thing happened to me once.
       It was when I met your mother.

I have met my mother, too.
She comes sometimes
motoring out to the flotilla
motoring up to our kabang
Always bearing things
       gifts, too many.

White people cannot do without their things
       my father tells me

She steps aboard, glamorous in a
wide brimmed hat
sunglasses
lips tinted red
She is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.

I thought so too, once
       my father tells me
I glimpsed her swimming in the waters
       this most beautiful of tourists
I harpooned her!
swelled with pride
think of it! A tourist wife!

What happened? I ask
       Why did she leave?

My son,
       my father tells me
White women are hairier than they look.
Hairy like a man.
They cannot survive out here
       without their razors
And so she went back.

He is joking. I think.

Come to New York!
       my mother tells me
now that I am older
She lists her things for me
       clothes car tee-vee refrigerator
       condo-overlooking-Central-Park

What is Central Park? I ask

Beautiful, she says. It has trees.
       Expensive as hell to live there.

What do you mean it has trees? I ask.
       Then she tells me of the city.

White people cannot live in the world that is,
       my father tells me
They must make worlds of their own
       forever carrying that world with them in things
       forever fighting with each other over things
       forever getting upset when they loose their things
Then they think the world they've made is ugly
       the world they carry around with them is too burdensome
And they come here to get away from it all.

He spits in disgust

Then looks sad

But they cannot stand the way they really look
       and they go back.

Come with me to New York!
       my mother says
       one last time
       every time
       before she goes
Again trying to entangle me with a net of her things:
       ice cream deodorant air conditioning

She leaves again.

my father consoles me
as we try not to weep:

       The hair on her head isn't real either.

Article © Alexandra Queen. All rights reserved.
Published on 0000-00-00
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