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The small pool in the restaurant was halved
by a black and gold-painted bridge that joined
the take-out foyer to a dining room
filled with the elderly in their Sunday clothes.

A fountain with little ambition dribbled
on itself near the pond’s middle, mixing
the smell of algae with sesame oil,
and three Chinese lanterns, tassels drooping,
hung like weary fireworks over all.

Among the coins and plastic plants,
a few turtles lay still at the tank’s bottom —
honeycombed plating, calligraphy swirling
in the outermost ring of their shingles,
fringed with vermilion and orange.

With the wish pennies our grandmother
had pressed into our palms, we’d stand atop
the bridge’s arch and pierce the surface
with our coins’ perfect circles, aiming
for the turtles to be certain they were real —
our persistent wish, to stir this world awake.


Kevin Casey’s work is forthcoming or has recently appeared in Green Hills Literary Lantern, Paper Nautilus, Rust + Moth, San Pedro River Review, and other publications. His new chapbook,The wind considers everything — was recently published by Flutter Press; another from Red Dashboard is due out later this year. For more information, visit

© 2015, Kevin Casey

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