Hindi Ko Alam Ng Sasabihin Ko

your mother shops for a fish
               a plastic bag for a glove
you untangle the wires with the crew
               a boy among men
you choose the photograph for the wake
               a finger in your mouth
you tied the string too tight
               you were poor but happy
you didn't know what to say
               a balloon's string strung on your wrist
you watch your mother in the blue-black kitchen
               men sag to touch the dancing boys
in the hospital full of Filipina nurses
               dry palm trees rustle in the Santa Ana winds
she grips her ankle on the floor
               you ask what to say and how to say it
she takes her wig off and lights a candle
               to clear the spirits from the room

From Documents. Copyright © 2019 by Jan-Henry Gray. Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc., on behalf of BOA Editions.