We passed your absence in a too-white box
through the hanging green of your front garden.
So carefully it had grown since you last
cupped your translucent hands under
smogged and sweating skies, guiding wells
of gentle thunder to glaze bitten hibiscus
with crystal aphids of rain. On your box
we scattered seeds of Manila like how you used to:
a genesis of buds and bulbs beneath
your tsinelas clustering soil, once
raked by revolutions and still
satisfied by water out of God’s
drooling paper mouth, so that orchids can
bloom from you and your smoke-wisped
skull, so that something can exist, breathe,
move from that static white cot –

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The palm tree was an irritation,
swelling incessantly, underpinned
and tucking in the tarmac driveway
like a friend overstaying. In dry season we tripped
over endless tiles to sit at its ankles,
spooling its husk from the lips and folds
bodied in the bark, rolling the morsels between
soft, fresh, brown hands, flattened together
for little prayers. When done we’d shuck a mouth
open between wrists like fleshy oysters –
a moment of exhibition for our felted pearl,
revealing a hairball in our likeness.


We stood at your feet.
I wanted to throw the hairballs at you.
There are too many palm crosses
on this bedrock, I thought, they looked like
incorrections below this pregnant, yellow city
and you are not the same as the other
marble names nor was I one of the black swarm
congregation filing out of the church
or the roaches hibernating in Father’s altar

they went to see you off with butterflies and rain,
mum and I sat on plastic stools
wondering of a time when these palm crosses were green leaves,
wondering if hymns and holy water have stopped working,
and why two daughters must turn into one


* tsinelas = slippers

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