People Watching Along Kalākaua Avenue

by Normie Salvador

Dropped off by my dad, I walk Kalākaua
Avenue, the liminal line keeping beach
from park. I am conspicuous in Waikīkī
Aquarium yellow shirt, slacks, and Skechers.

I amble along under the shade of palms,
past sunbathers salving on sunscreen
in cool morning light yet too weak to warm,
much less sear upon skin exposed by bikinis.

Hand-in-hand, a couple in a comfortable quiet
bubble saunter past me in khaki-leisure apparel
and lau hala hats beneath the shelter of shadows
cast by the rows of windbreaker ironwoods;

Another pair wander the park grass,
costumed in matching aloha shirts and shorts,
stopping to snap pics of a Diamond Head
dominating the slopes beyond the coconut palms

I pause and try to see it with malihini eyes,
again for the first time. I cannot remember the last
time I saw the valleys and ridges of its brocade flanks
draped in winter green and not in summer drought.

I shake from my reverie, I cannot be tardy
again for my volunteer shift at the Edge of the Reef
touch pool, where from beneath a parasol I beckon
tourists to stroke sea cucumbers and cup hermit crabs,

where I codeswitch and take care to
enunciate and pronunciate accentless Standard English,
where I perform memorized phrases
of Japanese, mimicking a fluency I do not possess.

 

Normie Salvador is a disabled Filipino-American poet and editor. Tinfish Press published his poetry chapbook, Philter (2003). His recent work appeared in Bamboo Ridge and Wordgathering.

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