by Robin Rosen Chang
At the frutería, I speak Spanish—
ask something simple,
like the price of pears.
Cuales, señora? Las peras
conferencias o las blanquillas?
the shopkeeper replies, rapid-fire.
Since I’m not fluent in the language
of getting things done and don’t
know Spain’s pear varieties,
I say gracias and go
to the bananas I don’t want.
A moment later, a small boy in untied sneakers
asks the shopkeeper a question.
By himself, he weighs three green pears,
prints the price label,
and sticks it onto the paper bag.
I imagine how he’ll wait for days
until his mother picks a ripened pear
from the bowl on the windowsill,
takes a paring knife—
the one with the brown handle
worn to the shape of her fingers—
and cuts it into chunks.
He’ll grab piece after piece,
his fingers squashing them
into his mouth, sweet pear
juice running down his chin.
On my kitchen counter, the bananas