To the Lady of Good Voyage

Cloak of pale blue painted over a frock
of muddy white, like some vintage 1950s
Red Cross volunteer uniform— except

there are pinpoint flecks of gold
in her hair, describing a tiara. I have her
still, on the nightstand next to the radio

alarm: small enough to fit in my palm,
fired clay figure of the Virgen de Antipolo,
Lady of Good Voyage my mother picked up

after a pilgrimage to her shrine.
When I left my children for a few years
in her care, she closed my fingers around

the bell shape of its skirt, saying
Keep her always with you. Sometimes
I wonder if instead, it should have been

my daughters— if I could have found
a way to carefully fold and carry
their childhoods as I crossed the sea

into our unfamiliar future; and then, if I
could have set them down and dusted the ordeals
of travel gently from their shoulders.

 

In response to Via Negativa: Marking Time.

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