TIGER STORY (circa 1976)

She invited me to Marblehead one Sunday,
took me to a State Fair where we watched
prized pigs, chickens and ducklings, ate
sugar-glazed apples, and bought two jars
of dark raw jungle honey. Later walking
on the beach, I gathered pretty shells
as she told me how much she enjoyed Bach's
Brandenburg Concertos we heard at Harvard.

She cooked a tacos dinner, then
drove me to the Blue Line station
where we waited in a restaurant.
Over some strawberry ice cream
sundae, she gazed at me with
her dark French eyes and asked,
"Tell me what you know about
the elixir of immortality?"

I pulled out from my jacket pocket
The Book of Chuang Tzu written over
two millenia ago, and read to her
from a chapter "The Secret of Life"—

    In the State of Lu, there was
    a hermit named Shan Pao who
    breathed fresh mountain air
    and drank pure spring water.
    His mind was free of every
    earthly attachment. At the
    age of seventy, his skin was
    as smooth as that of a babe.
    Unluckily, one day, he met a
    hungry tiger who ate him up.

She laughed deeply from her belly.
Cupping my face gently in her hands
she kissed me softly and whispered
"I could eat you up right now!"
My ice cream melted in a pool of pink
as one train left after another.

        — Peter Y. Chou
            Palo Alto, 3-8-1990