Lonely Wolf and the City

My mother tells me when I am
older and wiser in my twenties,
the world won’t feel so big.
If I lose a penny today, I will find a shinier one tomorrow.
I am heading out for a walk and she
stuffs a peach pit in my hand,
so I can hold the city, feel how small it is.

In downtown San Francisco,
it is teeth-chattering cold even in the summer.
I am strolling down Union Square,
thinking about the things I once had and lost:
A blue-eyed Barbie when I was five, some kid stole it.
A leather bound journal when I was twelve, my father trashed it.
A brown-eyed boy when I was seventeen, I called it off.
Memories of adolescence, I couldn’t keep them safe—
times of naiveté, fog, and uncertainty,
times when I didn’t realize I was actually happy.

At a dumpling house in Chinatown,
a child’s laughter is bright as a lantern.
From the second story window,
the aerial view of the city is impressive
like Shanghai in the early 1920s.
Tea parlors and candy shops,
elderly couples and young individuals
walking in hurry, in leisure through the streets.
The people of the city,
I wonder where are they all going?

I tell my mother the city is a lonely wolf.
It is the cafes and museums, the culture and people
who keep the streets jovial and energized.
In the evening gray, the city is vacant.
I’m two blocks from home and
the ants on the concrete are the only ones
who can hear a rumble at twilight,
the thud of a peach pit dropping
from my hand onto wheatgrass and soil.
The city is free to bloom again.

Ha Kiet Chau is a Chinese-Vietnamese American writer from Northern California. She teaches art and literature in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her poems and stories have appeared in Asia Literary Review, Ploughshares, Sierra Nevada Review, and Thrush Poetry Journal. Her chapbook, Woman, Come Undone, is forthcoming from Mouthfeel Press. For more of her work, visit her at : http://hapoetryblog.tumblr.com/