Ha Kiet Chau

Posted on August 6, 2012

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On a Brooklyn Terrace

That night, my father and I stood on top of the world on our little Brooklyn terrace. He wasn’t smoking his usual fat, brown, Cuban cigar. Instead, he was chewing trident gum. He leaned over the rail whistling, as we counted the stars, little nuggets of gold on a bed of black. I shivered when a slow rumble erupted from the sky and a strange object flew above our heads. It seemed far away, but appeared so close. I tried to grab it, but no matter how far I stretched my arms, I could never touch it. I asked my Dad what was that thing? He informed me it was an airplane with people inside, probably headed to Paris or China. I scratched my head, unable to register it. Humans couldn’t possibly fit inside that tiny plane. I’m a giant compared to that little bitty toy in the sky! My father had to be lying. I hated it when adults do that. I asked him, “How can that tiny plane fit people as big as you and me inside?” He laughed with gusto, ruffled my tangled hair, and answered, “We just do. We all fit somehow.” I folded my arms and demanded, “But how?” He unwrapped a fresh stick of mint gum, popped it into his mouth, and winked at me. “You’re a smart kid, one day you’ll figure it out.” That night, the stars and plane were close enough to pinch with my fingers. Yet, I couldn’t touch them no matter how far I reached and reached. I could only stand and appreciate it from afar. Just like a moonrise at dusk. A second plane soared above our heads. My father whistled, “Whew, look at that jet! Isn’t it magnificent?”

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Ha Kiet Chau is a poet and freelance writer. Her writings have appeared or are forthcoming in Ploughshares, Asia Literary Review, Yellow Medicine Review, Flutter Poetry Journal, Everyday Other Things, Fjords Review, and many others. Ha teaches art and literature in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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