Saturdays in Childhood

Saturdays then, no school,
just chores and homework; or
practicing scales, then walking
to the store with our 3 boarders
who wanted to buy coconut jam.
I don't know when father and mother
decided to take in lodgers, or how
they found this particular group,
all attending the local university.
They were beautiful and leggy; and,
having come from Bangkok, everything
they said sounded like the fluted
sounds of tongues trying out
English in another country
where English was not the first
language either. They humored
me, awkward child with thin arms
and scars down my legs, curious
about the mysteries of the curling
iron and the manicure set: in turn
I adored them as older sisters
might perhaps be adored, though I
wouldn't know, as I didn't have
any. When they left, as we knew
they would, I was back to being
by myself: fading into the back-
ground with a book in my hands,
watching as the grownups combed
their hair or put on lipstick,
put on clothes for going out.

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