You are not here.
Not your smooth skin taut over bones, over warm blood
coursing through your heart.
Heart of a brown mother, heart of a brown father
heart that never confessed
" I didn't do anything wrong Daddy, I swear"
Not your eyes wide that took in boxing matches and light of a girl's face
not your fingers pulling through soft curls
not your long-legged stride
not your shy laugh that lifted above this crooked path.
Above the unease.
Not the bright memories that kept you whole:
high school dance, cousin's wedding, favorite black comb.
Not even the dark ones: haoles with rope.
Not the hopes of a mother wanting more than a janitor's mop and broom
for you- her good boy, her darling boy.
And we who are here
do what we must: close the casket,
open the ground, return what was never ours and wonder-
can we take you once more, just once more,
to the places you loved? Go back-
carry you out of this field
bring your lei, your music
take you down to Akepo Lane
past the pool halls' soft thud of a cushioned tip hitting the cue.
Take you to Kauluwela
lean bodies gripping the dirt with toes- feet running, lunging, running.
Drive you along School Street- through A'ala Park
past weathered old Filipinos shooting dice
Can we take you to the beginning?
back to the cradle when you were a babe
and could only look up; fat and drowsy
imagine not this world for us.
slopes of green, bronze stars in the fishermen's net,
crack lightning in your tongue and veins-
all these within you pushing forward a reckless promise
that is inherent in every creation, Godlike. We.
Maybe there you can rise and let loose
the shame and fear inscribed in our palms