Souvenirs for My Daughters


Holding onto hope

Where there are faces, I search,
hoping for my parents. Itís not unusual
that relatives reunite in refugee camps.
I have heard of parents meeting their son again.
Sister finding sister or brother. And, I hope hard;
when I do that, I usually hold my breath
for about ten seconds, putting all my thoughts
on what I am hoping for, my motherís and fatherís
faces to stick out among the crowd.
Sometimes chaos sifts out whatís hidden.

The water trucks are late. Dust around the water
tanks kicked up by children playing hopscotch carries in the air.
I sit out today. My left eye swollen from a butt of a rifle.
My cousins are in the middle of a game of checkers.
I look out onto the dusty road, catch brown faces
squinting out the sun. The back of a tall head catches me off guard.
Doubts cloud my head.
Miracles still happen, I tell myself.

I hold my breath to focus on what I want.
I drop my buckets to follow a man,
tall, thin and a head full of black curls. I call him, Pa-pa,
Pa-pa.
When he does not turn toward my call, I run up
but I do not touch him.
He looks down and frowns at me, probably thinking
my bastard of that one night.
His face does not match my memory of my father.
I turn back pretending mistake
that it is not I who had made the call.
I walk back and turn around one last time to let myself know
of how I could have mistaken a strangerís back for my fatherís.
Just then we are face to face, again. The stranger searches his memories;
and I x the list of my fatherís features.
The curly hair is off-color.
It should be grayer and thinner.
I am angry at my own stupidity
for having hope and doubting fate.

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