by Johnson Cheu
Summer evenings, my father taught me chess.
Pawns, rooks, knights, and bishops border
and protect the Queen. Yet, sometimes she’s left
open, vulnerable. Mother bought me a harmonica.
Cover holes with tongue, leaving some open. Blow.
America the free, unlike the regime my parents fled.
New borders, still vulnerable. A vacation to Opryland.
It’s not just Loretta, Hank, Merle, and Minnie I recall,
but Knoxville. Father asking for directions en route.
Motorists rolling up windows, gas station attendants
shutting blinds. Still, folks converged at Opryland
singing of America, bordered, yet borderless.
A Strawberry moon hues this evening, convergence
of Summer Solstice and full moon. A cream and berry
parfait of borders, convergences, just like this America
where Merle croons, if we make it through December, we’ll be fine.
Johnson Cheu’s poetry has appeared in publications such as Family Matters, Screaming Monkeys, and Staring Back: The Disability Experience from the Inside Out. Poems are forthcoming in Chautauqua and Crab Orchard Review. He teaches in the Department of Writing, Rhetoric and American Cultures at Michigan State University.