Sunday, March 4, 2012
Manicure Diva: Hong Hanh, Apricot Blossom
When they call her “diva,” she ducks her head, her thick black hair falling
like curtains to shield her cheeks.
Her head rises only to greet clients or reach for tools she wields with
grace and skill unmatched in that salon.
Hong Hanh: manicurist extraordinaire, epitome of modesty and
expertise! her clients rave.
They heap praise upon their diva, petite lady of amber eyes and
perfect teeth, artist who cuts and trims and swooshes and colors and
transforms the mundane to majestic.
They dip into Calvin Klein and Kate Spade bags for tips to stuff into
Hong’s flowered pockets or press into her hand.
But when doors are locked, and
Americans are gone, and
lamplight paints the sidewalks yellow, and
tall glass windows turn black and cold, and
Hong flips the OPEN sign around, and
sweeps the floor in urgent arcs,
A pall hangs in the shop. Specters float beside her at the sink, as she rinses
scissors and clippers and fruit for the shrine behind the counter.
Hong Hanh: tiny woman of Saigon fields, of brothers slain in wars and
sisters enslaved in beds.
Hong Hanh: aborter of two children from rapist monsters.
Hong Hanh: daughter of parents abandoned in a land lost in mist and
Her hands work magic by day, and pray by night.
Her head bows over hands by day, and bows on the ground by
night, tears staining photos and rugs and wooden floor.
Her heart lies calm and meek in the salon by day, and flails with grief by
her escape across oceans to freedom unable to free her soul.