by Hubert Silva
Who are you? I barely know
your name. Just in passing
from stories my mother told,
the daughter confined to The States
unable to bury her mother.
My condolences and my sympathies
might be the best I can ever give.
Because the mystery of you was
tucked away in photo albums
along with other forgotten memories,
counting dust specks on their bindings
turning grey as ghosts, uncherished.
A hunting wondering, wandering
where to place the weighty love
that you were always meant to hold.
I imagine you would have done so
with ease. I was told you were kind.
that you traveled hours
by land and water to Manila
to bring me toys and clothes, and candies.
I was told you always brought me candy.
Did I have a favorite sweet?
Did you know what it was?
When I had baby fat on my neck
did you kiss the left side or right?
Did I cry until you picked me up?
Did I cry when you put me down?
Were you strong enough to toss me in the air?
Did you make me believe I could soar like a plane?
How did I fall asleep in your arms?
Would I sink into your breast, a perfect pillow?
What is it like to pass in your own home?
When you were taking your last breath,
did you think of my mother?
Did you think of me?
Have you ever been a passing face in my dream?
Would you be proud of who I am?
Once over some mangos
in the December heat
of the Philippines
the one grandmother
I've ever known said,
"ang bait na bait yung lola mo."
Your grandmother was incredibly kind.
She was speaking of you.
I was thirteen then,
and I didn't know your name.
Yet still it took nineteen years,
since last you laid eyes on me,
when I was three, and moving away
beyond borders, away from your reach,
did I finally learn your name, by heart.
For now, I hope it's enough to cherish you