Published with Permission
by Bamboo Ridge Press (1993)
PUEO DON’T FLY
Bernie let me touch the glass eyes
in the tray at his shop.
He order um from a magazine call Van Dyke.
He tell sheeps and goat get the same eye.
Chinese ring neck pheasant or blue pheasant
same like a chicken or like my rabbit, Clyde.
Bernie, he stuff Clyde when he die last Easter,
but when I seen my rabbit —
all matted his fur was
and his eyes no was the same;
his teeth was real buck not like the real Clyde.
I say, Thanks, Bernie. I know
he trying for be kind to me
but I cry all the way home.
That’s why Bernie say he going quit stuffing pets.
One time, Bernie stuffing a pueo.
Bernie he have a phone call
so he tell me sit on his taxidermy stool
and watch so the pueo don’t fly away.
I touch the feathers, brown and soft.
I pick up the head but it fall backwards
even if I hold the neck.
The pueo eye all gray
like loose skin and sunken in.
I put my fingers on the eyes and make um open
but no more nothing there. Nothing.
Just one dark, black hole.
When Bernie come back,
he put the excelsior body in,
the wires in the claws part and he tell me,
Like put the glass eye in the bird eye socket?
First I make like, Nah, nah, I no like.
Then I think about the pueo
and his big, black nothing
under the smooth eye skin.
I pick up the yellow glass eye
with Bernie long tweezer and put um in
the soft clay Bernie put in the bird eye.
And I move the eye until I know
the pueo looking straight at me.
Bernie smooth the feathers down
and put string around the bird.
Why gotta tie um up? I ask him.
Bumbye he like visit you
when you sleeping, he tell.
And he run away from my shop.
You wen’ make him see, ass why.
That’s why he looking at you.
He gotta remember your face.
I wait every night
for the pueo come to me.
I look from the picture window
in my living room for the pueo big wings,
his big, yellow glass eye
looking for me.
On the wall in Bernard’s Taxidermy Shop
is two big, green turtles. They all shiny.
Bernie, he use varnish make um look wet.
Bernie say, before could catch turtles
for the shell or for meat, but now,
he say not suppose to catch turtles
or else the police going arrest you.
He say, when you catch a turtle,
the turtle he cry a tear
from his big, wet eye.
Bernie seen um when he went fish
down South Point side.
He ask if I ever taste turtle meat.
He say, Ono you know.
I tell my wife cook
the frozen turtle meat one night
and you come over try some.
Ask your mama first.
I thinking about the tear from the turtle eye.
I tell Bernie I no like.
Bernie say the turtle eggs
look like ping pong balls.
He tell me, his friend Melvin,
the lifeguard down Punalu‘u beach,
seen turtle fin marks in the sand
couple weeks ago so him and Bernie
wen’ put all the eggs in one hole
and wen’ put one cage over so nobody vandal um.
Late one Saturday afternoon,
I was at Bernie’s shop helping him sweep up
the loose feathers, this white chemicals,
and sheep wool off the floor,
the phone wen’ ring and was Melvin.
Bernie stay all panic on the phone.
Okay, okay. I going close the shop.
C’mon, he tell me. No need sweep.
C’mon, c’mon. The turtles hatching.
We neva going see this in our whole life again.
Us get in the Jeep and drive fast down Punalu‘u.
No speed, Bernie, I tell him,
bumbye Officer Gomes give you one ticket.
But Bernie, he no listen.
When us get there, close to night time.
Get Melvin and his girlfriend, Teruko.
Bernie’s wife stay too —
she work the lei stand down the beach.
The little turtle babies,
they pop their head
right out the black sand.
They all black too.
And when one ‘nother one about to come up,
the sand cave in little bit
around the turtle head.
Turtles, they know by instinct
where is the ocean, Bernie tell. Watch.
And he turn one baby turtle backwards to the mountain.
Then the turtle he turn
his own self around
and run to the water.
Get plenty. They all running to the water.
They shine when the wave hit them.
And their heads stay bob up
and down in the ocean.
Plenny little heads.
Bernie pick one up and give um to me.
Like take um home?
Take um, take um, he tell me.
I think about the turtles on Bernie wall.
They look like they crying too.
Nah, I tell him. I no like um.
I take the baby turtle to the water edge,
his eyes all glassy, his whole body shine,
and I put um down.
No cry now, I tell um,
Bernie he everytime show off his glass floaters.
I wen’ tell him I like one
but he say, Not the same somebody give you.
Mo betta you find um yourself.
Go ask your mama if you can go Kaaluwalu
with me this Sunday.
That’s where all the glass balls stay,
but hard for fine.
Sometimes you think you see one
but ass only broken glass.
My madda make me do all kine work
before I can go. She say, Tell that old man
I like you home by 5:00
or I calling the cops.
Who he think him, your fadda?
We no need his pity.
I no think I going tell Bernie all that.
I take the tuna musubi I made for me and him
and walk to the taxidermy shop.
I real early so I put on
the old hunting boots Bernie gave me
the time us went hunting for pheasants.
Was little too big so I wen’ stuff
some toilet paper in the toes part.
Pretty soon Bernie come.
Kinda early, eh? he tell
and he adjust the visor on his head.
Bernie kinda bald.
How come? Your mama yell at you again?
I no say nothing.
Us get in the Jeep and pass the cow pasture
by the just burn sugar cane field.
Then us pass Punalu‘u and Honoapu Mill.
Bernie go slow through Naalehu
then Waiohinu by the Mark Twain monkeypod tree.
Bernie tell me stories about every stone wall,
every old graveyard, every stream,
and even the monkeypod tree.
When us get to Kaaluwalu,
Bernie give me my Calrose rice bag
and help me tie um around my waist.
He tell, Anything look pretty good to you
like I can use um for mount something,
pick um up, eh? Driftwood especially.
He help me put my knapsack on.
And no get your hopes up, okay? he tell.
Not every time get glass balls.
Maybe one in five trips I find one.
Get plenny bagasse on the beach.
Get plastic floaters all over.
All kine broken nylon net
and plenny broken glass
from the glass balls that never make it to shore.
Shine like green and blue stones in the water.
Then way by the top of the shoreline,
I see one nub part of the glass ball
so I tell Bernie I going check um out.
I dig in the bagasse and right there
in the wet cane rubbish is one small glass ball,
light blue and cool in the shade of the naupaka bushes.
I hold um gentle in my hands.
I no can even see my fingers.
I see the clouds, the sky moving.
I see my eyes.