Poem as Limping Concordance

Go, they said.
We'll help take care 
     of the children.

That first winter, I buy
padlocks, a flashlight, a disposable 
             camera at the drugstore

so I can take snapshots of the snow
on the way to campus. Don't 
                            go out

with damp hair, I'm told;
or they'll snap like brittle
                       icicles in cold

air. Before I find an apartment
shared with other 
             grad students, 

I make my first calls from public
phones in lobbies. I clutch 
                         a paper 

bag of coins
in one hand and listen
for 
    the warning tone.

The day of departure  
loops in my mind: my mother
and two 
      older daughters

rising before dawn to board
a cab for the airport;
we all 
       decide it will be 

a mercy to leave the youngest, 
still asleep, with our katulong.
What words 
           did we say exactly

and what sort of embrace ::
before the doors sealed themselves
in place
       between us.

Year after year
and it is a decade :: then
two :: then three.
              You make 

a litany
of what I've missed for which
there never will 
                 be a good

enough answer. I can tell you
about the blur of nights 
but not about 
               the sounds of longing 

I'm told escape my lips in sleep. 
I could tell you that my life,
narrowing more
               toward that cold museum 

bend, will never amass adequate
redress :: this body and its relics 
incapable of righting
        all the scales.

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