Chinatown Vagrant

June 15, 2009
By Mindy Hsiao SILVER, Saratoga, California
Mindy Hsiao SILVER, Saratoga, California
6 articles 0 photos 0 comments

I sit between that booth there,
With cheap trinkets made in China,
And that man on the bench there—
That ragged bag of bones smoking,
Ash catching on his trailing beard.

Consider me lucky,
I have no family to feed
As I shiver, hands clutching my sign:
Will Work For Food.

Consider me lucky,
With broken English, the man hells
Over the din for help lugging boxes
From a spray-painted truck
To the supermarket.

Consider me lucky,
The girl holding grandpa’s gnarly hands
Gave me her riceball
Before skipping off to school.

But I can’t stay here forever; tomorrow,
I’ll sit between that park there
With the pink pagoda—
Once firetruck red
Before wind and sun peeled the paint away—

And that herb store there,
Where the smell of ginseng and incense
Blend with fog as grandmothers haggle
Over the price of dried plums.

The author's comments:
This poem was inspired by the motif of migrant workers from John Steinbeck’s novel, Grapes of Wrath.

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