The Orange Backpack, He Has One

phillip-wenturinetwitterfacebookPhillip Wenturine, a native Floridian, is currently a Fulbright Professor in Santarém, Portugal. His short story collection, A Search For Cheap Wine, is on Amazon, and he has published other essays in Intrinsick Magazine, The Good Men Project, Aurora Magazine, Dime Show Review, Sick Lit, Potluck Magazine, and Lavender Bluegrass. He has an MFA in non-fiction and a BA in literature. Phillip enjoys traveling to foreign countries, consuming a large goblet of sangria, and talking to strangers. He has started a project similar to Humans of New York called Pessoas of Portugal. It aims to bring awareness of Portuguese people and culture back to America. It can be found on Instagram and Facebook.

The Orange Backpack, He Has One

The same sunrise as us,
they have one.

The same sweat that drips from our
foreheads to fingertips, from trekking
the Hill Tribes, up mountains, through forests,
over streams, they have some.

But my pack, on my shoulders,
filled bountiful with water and electrical cords
to charge my phone and my camera and
these things, these kids, have none.

For until last year,
electricity, they had none.
Even one dollar, 34 Baht,
they probably have none.

Keys which open car doors that drive
to houses with air conditioning and unlock
private rooms with beds, thick pillow-tops,
these kids have none.

With the makeshift jump ropes,
one missing handles, the other crafted out of
rubber bands, we played with them,
and laughter, they had some.

Soccer balls, tattered, and make shift goals
Of with mosquito netting that doesn’t really work
we used these to kick and aim for the goal,
their talent impressive, but sports scholarships,
they’ll get none.

And our hands, skin of different shades,
one lighter, smooth, the other redder,
sun-stained, and callouses,
they have some.

Back in the market, at the Café Amazon,
the milk tea, that I tossed back and forth
in my brain with green tea before I ordered,
a ridiculous dilemma in which they have none;

And it wasn’t even that good,
nor was I thirsty, but I had to have it,
just because. And I threw it out.
This I had, and they have none.

Handmade beads woven into bracelets
to sell for only a few Bahts
to get them through the next day’s meal,
they have some.

Mattresses, they have none.
Mosquito nets, they have some.
Bamboo roofs to cover their heads at night,
although rain leaks in, they have some.

Two meals a day, they have some.
A pair of shoes, most have one.
One pig, but soon, I’m sure,
They’ll have none.

Electricity, until 2015,
they had none.
A toilet, a stone hole in the ground
with a single hose to flush, they have one.

Roosters, my ears tell me they have some.
A kitchen, equipped with a fire and a wok,
in which I cooked them French fries and pancakes,
they have one.

Similar lives,
we share none.
But I left my orange backpack,
and now this little boy has one.

And all the time,
the same sunset as ours,
we share

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