For make my lips red like strawberry
For cool me off and calm be down
afta all dis and all dat

Just enough hope for me
to think that yes we can
do this
and do that
with all we have
or don't have

Just enough time for finish my poem
For da dis of da dat

Just enough space to write
All these thirty years
We did this
We did that

And no,
We not pau yet

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.

Listen to language
centuries old
and from decades past.

Sounds were written in journals,
archived in libraries, schools, and homes.

My regards to all
who work in this endeavor
recording moments
reading memories
printing time across the page

finding ways to translate the essence
of the past
of the present
while keeping music in tact
so others will learn

long after we die
and fade into the pages.

If I could give to you your father whole,
but I can not give to you your father whole,
he would be free of the demons that made him
eat straight from jelly jars then
turned him into a poltergeist
shuffling through the hallways at midnight.
He would be free of the strokes, tics, and tremors
that now reside as unwelcome guests
disregarding the hour.
I would give him to you
firm and familiar like the sinewy
muscles in your arms heavy
with the wisdom gained
by a lifetime spent loving one woman,
the small triumphs,
the shifting joys.
Each memory recalled of a first-
smile, step, word, kiss would be a black strand
on his head till he stood before you
a lush young man, a reflection in the mirror
shining with joy whispering
You are the common ground now son,
you are my ladder
A blessing that one day you will give
to your own son. You would not
fear the road ahead, you would not
fear words like Alzheimer’s, or cancer
or any other dark god disguised
in medical terms.
You would not shield your eyes
as he fades from view
flashing over the horizon.

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