The bright sun on this cool weekend morning
enticed me to the Elks’ flea market in Blawenburg.
I strolled along tables of knickknacks, cookware,
and tools, listened to the friendly banter
among vendors, and picked up a copy of
“The Catcher in the Rye” for fifty cents.
At the last stall, amid turquoise bowls and lime green vases,
I spied a charcoal-gray terra cotta warrior nine-inch tall,
with hair knots, trimmed moustache, breast armor,
and right hand clasped over his left.
Three dollars, the woman said and I was tempted
to add this treasure to my cluttered house.
On the drive home I thought of Maggie, the granddaughter
who visited the Age of Empires with me at the Met.
Surely Maggie would like this character.
I turned the car around, race-walked to the last stall,
and willed the statue to be there. But it wasn’t.
The vendor said her husband had just sold a lot of stuff.
Refusing to accept my loss, I scanned bowls, pots and pans
and spotted an oblong box labeled General with a five dollar tag.
Inside, the same terracotta warrior winked at me.
I scooped up my prize, paid five bills to the lady and walked away.
Wait, shouted her husband, I am glad you returned.
Here! He handed me two dollars back.
Vida Chu grew up in Hong Kong and has lived in Princeton for 50 years. Her poems have appeared in U.S. 1, Kelsey Review, US 1 Worksheets, the Literary Review, and others. Her book of poems, “The Fragrant Harbor,” was published in 2014.