Voicemails from my mother
An old story, one you know:
Once a snake ate my cat so
my second brother killed it
dead and made snake ball
soup for the whole family.
Maybe next time our table
will be bigger. Next time,
a snake big enough to feed
the street. Remember, I taught
you which palms to drink from,
how to pinch thin moons of dough
around the filling. I am running
out of time to tell you everything.
I can’t for the life of me remember
what I called to say. Don’t be stupid,
no one died of homesickness.
Sayang, what a waste a one way ticket
would be. I’m sorry if I
woke you again. Sayang, everything
here tastes different, always fish fried
in black oil and Maggi Magic Sarap.
Missy brought her youngest daughter
to lunch today – you know Ysabel,
the one at Yale – she reminded me
of you, or perhaps you are still that way.
I thought I’d spend a year here
but fruit trees take a year to yield anything.
I’m going out to the field today.
The light is doing something new
and it’s time for planting.
Sayang, everything that’s dead is just fertilizer.
All I need I can carry in my hands.
I liked me best when I chose to leave.
What I took with me, who I left,
there at the border,
squinting a little, raising a hand.