Trout Season in Disposable Camera

Kalani Padilla

June, a pilgrimage. I’ve scooped handfuls of White Rabbits out of the same filmy glass jar in Lihue. Watched mongooses scoot into sight from under trash bins after waiting out the rain, and the mynah birds start up again. Recessionals of fishermen in the boat harbor with their reef tabis and tiny coolers, water-wrinkled feet. The kids outside the supermarket checking the surf report, the moon phase, the price of Diamond G rice versus Homai. How the pothos here grow as ground cover and up Mango trees and through the wood slats of the houses. How it feels making eye contact with a Bodega Chickens eating fallen chow mein by the snack stand.

In Kokeʻe torso ragdolls in the truck bed while cousin courses us through centenary dirt ruts. In a white bucket, origins forgotten, fishing poles flourish like a tail fan. We wear long sleeves and fatigue pants and straw hats down to the reservoir instead of sunscreen. Turn head to a splashing sound, hanapaʻa, or a child with a scoop net getting after crawdads in the shallow. Nephew plunges knees-first, ass-last into mud. What you use? Da dough? Bisquick, brah. A very silent understanding of all things between my dad and every other Filipino dad. Were these all the same men who wore white Nike tracksuits for break-dancing on big pieces of cardboard after class? A clean life, as clean as they could manage, to spite the staining power of red dirt.

By late morning, the catch comes up on a stringer like a Chinese firecracker. Light blooms along the fish scales on my hands while we clean. Light slides over the fish scales on my feet while I stand. Buckets for guts. All the tiny rib cages I’ve touched from the inside. Exhausted sighs fill the silence of the water hose turned off. The stove tick tick ticks on. Piles of lychee skins and piles of plum stems and the piles of whole cloves from the last game of Texas Hold’em being swept off the table — make room for the bananas, Menlo’s, water dishes, brown sugar, and now Jim the groundskeeper coming in for company. The only white man we have seen all day, placing a machete, a pair of yellow binoculars, and a postcard down by the door.

Picking bones clean, someone reminds us: beware the main bathroom and its two mirrors that face each other. That’s where spirits travel, and some years we’ll joke about wanting to meet grandpa and grandma that way.

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