for John Heong-Sik Kwon
I remember days spent
at the beach house in Kihei
you built with your own hands
of cinderblock and scrap wood--
a place where the family
could come home.
I remember afternoons
you drove my sisters and me to Dairy Queen
in your olive green 1968 Datsun
(a car one year older than myself)
for chocolate-covered ice cream
we'd lick from our fingers and
smudge on our clothes.
I remember evenings of "Hanalei Moon" and "Aloha Oe,"
you strumming ukelele melodies,
your hands and voice
Grandma dancing hula
teaching us not to be shy.
when I told you
"I love you"
how your face shifted imperceptibly,
how you cleared your throat and
said in a voice not your own
"It is understood."
I couldn't understand
I think I do.