Flashback IOU

Lost in slurping
footfall
sidewalk concentration
I am harshly wrenched
by a blurt
of high-pitched giggles
and glancing back
I return to where
Iíve never been,
past Pleiku and the tea plantation
to the orphansí nuns:
clad in dark habits
topped by death-white and black
wimples, they look like accidental
paper dolls stuck
on your slides
of hankie-sized gardens,
bamboo, barbed wire and
rippled-tin roofs
sticking out of the pushy jungle,
flat-eyed caretakers
of the round-cheeked children
who somehow always found smiles
behind their mouth-dwelling,
grubby fingers:
The walk light changes
and I am alarmed back to here
and now, seeing
three preened women in chic black,
their laughter trickling out
from under dripping
umbrellas.

Constance Lee Menefee
Copyright 2000