My father's interrogative,
"What, not pau yet? How come?"
was always followed
by my mother's declarative,
"No, not pau yet."
followed by my unvoiced imperative,
"Do it yourself, den!"

My reflection of these moments,
of a man who did nothing around the house,
is accompanied by ripples of pity
for his pools of impatience,
driven by selfishness and will
that had distorted his sense of time
as to how long it took to iron his shirt,
or cook the rice for his meals,
or fill the tub for his bath.

However much love overcomes
pity, there is an overshadowing penalty.
Love slackens in its flow,
like that of slack water,
and turns, in tidal memory,
toward indifference,
the forgetting of what had been good.

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