At the top of the hill by the traffic signal she waves me down,
A little woman with a large plastic box waving her arms,
Help. Help me. I need you help me. 10 minutes, 10 minutes.
I look over at her, the expectant, hopeful look in her eyes.
I look at the plastic box there by her feet, a jumble of cloth and small pieces of wood, a red ceramic bowl and shiny porcelain figurines.
The light changes to green, the traffic begins to roll forward.
She looks at my bike rack, sees my hesitation as an invitation.
She’ll make do with what she’s got. Today, a confused man with a bike rack, he’ll do.
She starts to lift up her box.
Here, I’ll help you, I say, and help her place the box gently on the rack.
10 minutes, 10 minutes, she says, waving her hands down the long street of trees ahead.
The light changes. We walk across the intersection, she walking behind,
Balancing the box with her small hands, black hair bobbing up and down.
I’m Peter, I say.
Mai, she says.
I wonder how she got to this corner with this big plastic box.
I wonder where’s she’s been.
I wonder who she is.
So many questions, so many different worlds.
And now, this: a man, a bike and a black haired woman with a plastic box.
Down the street she waves me
Down past the burnt black remains of what was once a house.
Down past the fancy pink house with a red car trunk open in the drive and a woman taking out her grocery bags.
Down the street she clammers on, 10 minutes. 10 minutes.
Down and around the corner where a small black haired woman steps out of a house,
Sees us coming and throws her hands in the air.
The women cry out in exclamation and delight.
Everywhere, everywhere, there is laughter.