My mother lived in the waters here, Chocolate brown as she could be On the edge of Public's Beach She grew up in a caretaker's cottage,
The youngest, naughtiest, spoiledest of four
Her stories live with me now, My gichan with his wooden cigar boxes stuffed with the day's earnings My baban busy at the concession stand, the Mae West of her time with smooth porcelain skin even into her 90's going for her early morning swims in her strand of pearls, Jackie O sunglasses
and a wide brimmed hat.
Images of my mother swimming in the night Panties glowing in moonlight threatened with the belt for refusing to come in-- I imagine she refuses still flashing her willful stubbornness, sticking out her tongue she cried remembering how her brother offered to take her spankings for her remembering how the water was her best friend, remembering her papa, and the beachboys giving her a wicked nickname she laughed as she confessed it remembering the sweetness like it was yesterday, remembering. -j. a. hongo