My grandmother lifts the corners
of her mouth—a smile with no teeth;
open palms coaxing me to her side.
It’s hot, the thick air sticky on skin.
I stay at my mother’s side, fingers
busy pleating the hem of her skirt
where I can hide. There’s Uncle Kazuo
and Dad. My brother isn’t poking
at my mosquito bites, but joining in
with the many voices speaking
in pidgin about “dem cars.”
Then Mom’s hands rest on my shoulders,
pushing me away, telling me “be good.”
Grandma leads me outside
to where Chinese doves politely bow
at our feet and a red cardinal
hops into a five-gallon glass jar, pecking
up feed. I skirt the shade of the mango tree,
tiptoeing past puddles of shattered fruit
where the fruit flies hover low
close to the ground. I don’t like Hawai’i.
Running to the driveway, I see
our Chevrolet’s tires churns with dust.
In the rear window, the three black heads
of my family disappear.
My zori slippers slap against my heels,
but no one looks back. Around me,
the sun’s rays are the bars of a prison.
“Bumbye, they come home,” Grandma calls.
“I give you mango, yes?” I don’t understand
what she says about Uncle’s car ‘no go’,
about a battery, or the two orange ovals
she cradles against her body. From her kitchen
door, I watch as she peels the skin,
slicing the fruit. All I know is that the juice
stings the small cuts in my mouth.