coconut heart

my grandparents

sent my father across the ocean

to learn how to order the numbers in his head

into a white collar career

 

they valued education

& knew he could make it

in an eggshell system not designed for coconut husk

 

he traded talo for potato

tongan for english

& ngatu for plain cloth

 

when we go to the markets

he reverts to the tongan boy he used to be

caresses fresh coconuts

               & laments that the supermarkets here only sell stale ones

he wears floral shirts and a mate ma’a tonga cap

               haggles in a language he never taught me

then tells sea salt stories on the drive home

 

he has lived in a landlocked city for over thirty years

but his blood flows in time with the ocean

he exhales every time a wave hits the shore

& so my heart is bounded in a coconut shell

i bought for 50 cents at the otara markets