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.