(October is Fil-Am History Month)


They take up a collection
for the students newly arrived
from the islands: cutlery,
Melamine dishes, two
good box mattresses to lay,
futon-style, on the floor.
A bag of groceries, a list
of phone numbers. They tell them:
next weekend, we can take you
coat-shopping. Winter
will soon be here.


In the lunch room
at the end of the hall,
the Chinese resident comes
every Wednesday to lunch
with the nurses and lab
technicians. Sometimes
the pathologist joins them
when he smells the curries
and the steamed dumplings
heating the air. Once,
someone accidentally poured
iced tea into a beaker.


One evening after choir
practice, the tenor
who is a mechanic runs away
with the accompanist.
Her husband goes from house
to house, weeping and brandishing
a gun. No one knows where
the pair have gone.


The grandmother wants
to teach a song she half-
remembers to her son’s
only child. But this boy
spends half the afternoon
practicing the rhythms
of his body on a skate-
board, listening to
percussion in his ears.


The woman touches
the taut outline
of her belly, fingers
the bruise on her neck,
watches her husband sleep
on the sofa. She does not know
where he hid her passport,
somewhere in this house.


In response to Via Negativa: Homily.

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