Grows You Up
by Karen Breen
We don’t spend enough time in Naha at night.
No blue ticks, but blue taxis,
which are basically the same thing:
the small eyes and bulbed behind,
membranous and backpacking life.
What I wanna know is how to say something about it,
to say that a different country grows you up
because you’re scared to take pictures of it.
But the only difference between
the indigo skid my jeans left down the wall
where I stopped watching you back out
and my stubbled legs sitting cross-legged
on a barrier to the sea
is that I can take deep breaths here
without filtering through somebody’s vape smoke.
The in-betweens and the cartilage,
the middle was a lot of fecal matter,
which is not just a cute way to say I had a shitty time.
I’d be a seawall cat without my husband.
I saw one with a collar the other day,
and I imagine that’d be me.
I do a lot of undeserving.
You can say when you saw me last time,
I didn’t know how to spread with a butter knife.
But now my confused fingers mangle chopsticks, too.
The thing is—
West Virginia or Pennsylvania or Okinawa—
people live all kinds of places,
and only one of them is in your head.
* * * * *
Karen Breen is a poet based in Okinawa, Japan. Her work has been featured in Granola and Hedge Apple and is forthcoming in Ethel Zine and Children, Churches, and Daddies. She is also the winner of the 2018 Laura A. Rice Poetry Prize.