ha kiet chau

White Pearls

Nina flaunts a string of white pearls
Around her neck.
I’ve lost count, pearl after pearl,
Given to her by numerous lovers.
They make her feel pretty when she’s feeling lousy.
They hang an inch below her collarbone,
Delicate beads, all of them polished white.
When she sweeps her hair into a loose bun,
They lean in close, round and exquisite,
Take turns rubbing against her slender neck.

One night Nina cries that they’re all fake.
She unhooks the string of dainty pearls,
Chucks them onto the bamboo floor.
They bounce pitifully down a narrow banister,
One after another, rolling out a swing door,
Through the electric gates,
Scattering like debris on the uneven sidewalk.
Nina, is it insensitive of me to ask
Which ones are fake, the lovers or the pearls?

Ha Kiet Chau teaches art and literature in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her writings have appeared or are forthcoming in Ploughshares, Asia Literary Review, Marco Polo, Thrush Poetry Journal, Columbia College Literary Review, and many others. You can read more of Ha’s writings at http://hapoetryblog.tumblr.com/.