i saved myself but at what cost / what did i give up for this temporary stay / the spirit in me, holy or not / tells me it’s time to punish myself / but i choose this instead — poetry / from the safe side of a window / over and over // winter / february / is my father’s voice urging me / to remain silent / to hide my intentions / to sit alone until / they all fear me // but father, i am now 50 / and so afraid of / everything that sings // last night / this morning / loved ones remind me / that we are dying from each other / in secret / moving toward an end / like arms reaching out / to embrace a thing of skin // like my arms that tire / each time i write about mother / in the kitchen // i saved myself / or that’s what the doctor tells me / when i step away from the window / once more and until the next // but the forest calls me / the stillness / and the hawks / and branches left / stripped // the forest calls me / [father, is this fear, is this manhood] / while i celebrate / this thing called time / that takes everything / everything / under the sun.
i’ve walked into the park / again and again / thinking this is where / i’d find my heart // often it was in the dark / before the sun was boorish enough / to push through the branches // it’s gray—right now because / it’s a late january morning / in pennsylvania // there are many places / in which i have not belonged / not even counting my birthplace / sometimes you are forced to leave / before you even find out / if you want to stay // on tv, Rue says she doesn’t / think she is meant to last / in this life and is trying / so hard not to crumble // she is trying so hard to / hide her face from speaking / truth // i wonder what my own face / says to everyone / to you / if i have been successful in / keeping the secrets / that make me // i want to tell you / that i don’t trust anyone // i want to tell you / that i need to hold on / to your body / even if we forget each other’s names // the park—it’s cold i imagine / i have stopped going outside / i have stopped walking / i have stopped / for now / searching
daughter, it’s been months since i spoke to you / these days are covered in snow, places melted / hiding the cold pools of water in skies reflected / i woke up with my arms curled tight / clutching something i can no longer remember // yesterday we laughed on our walk / at the tiny footprints left on the steps of / a house around the corner / we wondered who lives there / what small lives // daughter, how does time work where you have gone / i want to say that i picture you in light / in a place more picturesque than this / but i only see your face surrounded by endless black air / how old are you now, daughter / because it’s getting harder to remember / harder to forget // are you a child / are you older than me / or are you still unborn / as you were when you left // it’s winter now / isn’t it always so? / and we are all dying // will you return then / and claim the life / you were meant to own // walk through this world / touch the resentful texture / of a leaf still green / and cry just to feel / warmth on your face // daughter, each day i am afraid / of learning to let you go / too late / and i’ll fail at loving my life / full enough to make you proud
the days between / the breaking / and the poem // searching for words / that were already / tucked in / your body // these ribs / a cage / that holds / a heart / this beating bird / in mourning // the two things / that ever belonged / to me— / my name / and the other / we call the ending // one long lost / the other not / yet here // all the windows / that called / for me / in different cities— / seoul / asunción / los angeles / san clemente / new york / pittsburgh // the pavement / that opens up / its cracked black / bosom // it would have been / so easy / it was always so impossible // it was never / my intent to leave / on this journey / nor yours // but your feet move / to survive / until the road / becomes hidden / under the snow / this path / like white death // their voices— / mom / father / your lost child / disappearing into / the silence / that consumes everything / in this never-ending / winter // a wolf / alone / running then walking / into the forest // to rest.