Volume 27, Number 2

Stone Soup

I. Arturo in Watts

The pond was still until I dropped lettuce and earthworms on its surface. Then koi rose, glittering like Kazuko’s tiara when she waved from a pick-up festooned with flowers, the Strawberry Queen. I was the scrawny boy she didn’t notice in the crowd. Two weeks later a military truck hauled her family to Manzanar. I wanted her to return to find her fish grown, each scale magnified, more brilliant than she remembered. I wanted her to know what the powerless can do for one another.

II. Kazuko in San Francisco

My first job after camp was in an office high-rise. I could see down into the piano store where Dad bought the upright we had to leave behind. My boss left loose diamonds scattered across his desk. He would pick one at random, absently rub numbers tattooed on his forearm as he lost himself in the gem scope’s enlargement of angular facets. He wanted hot coffee, a secretary who hungered more for Mozart than for stones. Each week I cashed my paycheck, dropped dollars into a jar hidden behind my icebox. When they reached the rim, I bought a used piano.

III. Stone on a desk

I’ve been prised from settings,
sewn into coat linings
time and again. Beneath anxiety
each owner brings what she’s kept hidden
among the carrots and potatoes
of her dreams. Her eye
makes me a pool
to cast a wish into.
My clarity isn’t emptiness.
I flicker with light.

—Lisa Dominguez Abraham