Recollection, 20 Years Later
I don’t remember.
Not the fat green grapes sitting on the
airplane tray table as my mother shook
my sleeping sister awake. Or being led up
the mocha-brown dirt path to my grandparents
house after the airport. I could never recall
for you going to the beach with my cousins,
or climbing up the bamboo ladder to my
aunt’s house where she poured us soda and
gave each of us pillows for an afternoon nap.
My head on the pillow, I didn’t peer through the wide
bamboo slits thinking—the floors in America
don’t have holes in them. I did not unknowingly
drift off, awakened by my uncle and aunt speaking
in a dialect that was gibberish to me. I don’t
remember crying when my cousins gutted freshly
caught fish, their thin blades slicing beneath heaving
gills. I never watched them scale up the coconut trees
barefoot. I didn’t play with the newborn kittens until
the mother hid them from me. I don’t recall sneaking
my hand into a cupboard for a sandwich I wasn’t
supposed to have. My grandfather’s moonish dark
brown face did not scare me. Maybe I found it strange
mosquito nets hung around me as I slept, ghostly wisps
of gauze that entered my dreams. There could not
have been a time when the electricity went out and
candles were lit. In the morning, I don’t remember
following grandma out to the water pump to fill
the bucket, or staring at her walking stick and
gnarled toes. I don’t think I ever had chocolate
ice candy, content with the sugar. Did I cry a few weeks
later, wanting to go home to my father? Did I run
into his arms at the American airport? Maybe it was
then I waved to my mother when she went back on
the plane to go home to that foreign place,
never to return.
Some Moonlit Kingdom on a Beach
The birds that fly above us could be stars.
Anything is true with the night.
The moon hangs on Sylvia Plath’s own verse:
Bright, white as a nurse floating down
hospital hallways. We fill our mouths with
pebbles from the shoreline to try to understand
water speak. By 2 am we give up language lessons,
spit out the rocks to the other side of the water—
filling our mouths with each other’s tongues
instead. That is to say what kissing without
consequence is. Two hours later the earth unfolds
at our feet, and the night dissolves into moonlight and
heartbeat and stars. It is then I am fooled
into believing I am healed, the answer to the question
Do you want to keep living? suddenly an obvious yes.
Tonya Eberhard recently graduated from the University of Missouri. She currently lives in Minnesota. Her work has appeared in Dirty Chai, Lingerpost, Yellow Chair Review, Open Minds Quarterly, Sun & Sandstone, among others.