South Point, Hawai’i
I was six the year my parents divorced.
Dad obtained custody. I was wounded,
lost, a spectator puzzling things out.
I seldom knew what was expected of me.
During school breaks I visited Mom for a week
or two. One visit, Mom and her boyfriend,
Mr. B., consulted tide charts, took me hunting
for glass floats from Japanese fishing fleet nets.
Did Dad okay this excursion with Mom and her
The drive to Ka Lae, the Big Island’s
southern tip, interminable.
Glass floats lodged in rafts of bagasse,
or sugar cane waste, from mills
on the Hāmākua Coast and in Kaʻū.
Tides deposited bagasse in tan heaps
along the shoreline at Ka Lae.
I startled Mom by pointing to an open seawater pool,
to a small transparent glass float, unbroken.
Mr. B. waded into the water, collected the glass float,
presented it to me. We resumed clawing
through mounds of bagasse with our hand rakes,
searching for more floats. I wasn’t persistent.
I slipped away, broke open a waterworn
sugar cane stalk, and a bumblebee lumbered
into salt air. It droned away through my wonder.
A generation ago, in the mid-1990s, the last
of the Big Island sugar mills closed.
Bagasse a memory, nearly forgotten.
The fishing floats, plastic now.
I watch a boy watch a bumblebee rise from
wound into astonishment again and again.
Dad is dead; Mom and Mr. B. are dead, too.
I kept the small, clear glass fishing float
for decades, till I no longer needed it.