Ah-Kong slept at seven last night, slept two
more hours this afternoon.
He’d been tasked to drive me to the airport,
when the silver hands of his watch slanted towards
the time, he reviewed the contents of his day in bed:
his garden, the orchard, the nightly news, and his sister’s
home-cooked Chinese dinners.
Clad in Sunday shoes and long-sleeved shirt
tucked into dark, pressed pants
he barked laconically at me before I stepped into the car,
made me repeat my careful checklist twice first,
his granite-flecked jaw
weighted down as though with rocks.
Large, gnarled, knotted hands gripped the steering wheel
it should have been a shovel or cratet—the way
wizened talons lock too hard over smooth branches.
He stood unmoving in the check-in line, keeping my suitcase
in the shadows, his ramrod, old frame
carved on the floor.
He took his coffee without sugar or cream,
gulped it down his weathered brown throat,
eyed my iced cappucino under sparse grey brows.
He said little—just tracked
blurry red orange lights twinkling through the cold windowpanes.
He told me to take care, eat well—
but when I turned to leave
he said wait
grey stubbles working and creasing on his chin—
placed two heavy arms around me
at wrong angles
a distorted picture frame
then let me go.
About the Author:
Name: Fara Ling
Age: 16 (junior)
I’m Fara Ling, and I’m sixteen going on seventeen–intentional Sound of Music reference there! This is my fifth year with TPS, and I’m taking AP Literature with Ms. Wood. I love reading, writing, dancing (in particular ballet and contemporary), and being in nature, preferably alone. I live in Malaysia, and I’m in love with the idea of cold weather. I heard about Clay when I was relatively new to TPS, and when it was still The Cracked Pot–probably from a teacher or classmate or a link on Studyplace. This year I’m taking AP Literature with Raelen and Halle, and they talked about Clay at the beginning of the school year!