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A.Y. Tanaka is a poet who lives in Kealakekua, Hawaii.


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Few

by A.Y. Tanaka

    I'd learned the hard way
    a-b-c's are taught, hence easy to forget
    or half-forget

    but numbers mew and stammer in our blood.
    Half-skunked, you'll count
    successfully
    at least to eighty-three.
    You don't -- not because you can't.

    My pulse revives when I'm reminded
    two and two make four, reminds
    me why I'm here, agrees
    to what I've always guessed about the world
    and why it's home.

    Among the Few, who come to market
    in the rain, but rarely, kw' is "one";
    their second kw' a gasp that says "too much."
    Perplexed mission-folk write home:
    "They're quite (God's truth) incapable

    of counting further." Incorrect.
    They can -- they wisely don't,
    except when waiting lonely for the dawn,
    confirming what they've always known
    about the world and why it's home.