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  • Aunty's Candle
  • Mary Therese Perez Hattori (bio)

                    "Aunty" was a school teacher. She was practicing a science lesson on us—we went to her family's house every day after school. Here, she is doing the classic candle and glass jar experiment which is used to demonstrate states of matter. In the experiment, a burning candle sits in a vessel of water and a jar is placed over the candle.

Aunty lit the thick candle she had erected in a pan of water.      What do you think will happen to the candle if it is covered by a jar?            Will it keep burning?                  How long will it burn?                       Do you think the size of the jar makes a difference?                              What about the size of the candle? What do you think?                                    What do you think?

                                          She prattled on and on and ON with the stupid questions.

I was mute, dumbfounded.

How could I answer such silly questions

when in my head more important ones were

glowing, burning, blazing?

Did she know what her husband did while "babysitting" us?     Would she believe me if I told her?          If she did, would she make him stop?               Could she make him stop?                    Would he kill me if I spoke up?                         Why does he do it?                              Why to me?                                   Why me?                                        Why?                                             WHY? [End Page 22]

with great drama, she lowers the jar     his huge hand descends on my face and nostrils

pressure builds inside the jar, the water rises     like the surge of fluid from the erection which infests my throat

slowly, gradually, the flame expires          my soul suffocates

our questions die, too. [End Page 23]

Mary Therese Perez Hattori

A daughter of Guåhan (Guam), Mary Therese Perez Hattori is one of nine children of Paul Mitsuo Hattori who was originally of Kalihi, Hawai'i, and Fermina Leon Guerrero Perez (familian Titang) of Chalan Pago, Guam. Dr. Hattori is the Interim Director of the Pacific Islands Development Program in the East-West Center and is an affiliate faculty for the University of Hawai'i and Chaminade University of Honolulu.

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