It’s taken me seven years to write about the roughness of your hands.
I wondered if this is what my grandfather’s hands would have felt like
holding mine when we met for the first time, unsure if it’s okay
to touch me like a doll, unsure if he could kiss me on the forehead like he’s
known me at all. I only remember a single phone call. Seven years old.
My mother told me to hold the phone and say hi. I wanted to drop the line.
One day, you would make it to America or I would be bold and find your home.
I imagine bringing you a plate of rice, looking at the callouses that cling
to your palms receiving my gift, me understanding you had a lifetime of
work and it is time for a meal. For a little rest. Finally, you’d become real.
What did your hands do when you weren’t eating?
I’ve missed out on a lifetime of you.
I’m sorry I couldn’t bring you to what I only knew
and couldn’t say enough about with the limits of my seven-year-old
mouth. I always wished I could have said some more. You’ve been resting
now for sixteen years. I hope it’s quiet and dry where you are so
you can hear me think about your life. You jumped at me, a grasshopper
walking the house you helped build. The dream after I touched the outside
of your casket, so white, my grandma’s ashes resting near you, in a vase.
I’m hardly closer to where you came from, the first time away from mom
and dad in a country where my tongue is still stupid and slow. This Rich Coast,
Costa Rica, lending an old man’s hand to me.
This country tries to pull me closer, into a volcano’s peak.
I wonder which of the old men’s smiles were the kind you would have give to me.
I hold on tightly and rise like a sack. If only I could see you when I got older.
For now, I cling to your voice, the words raspy and smooth,
and my words, stuttering, “I can’t wait to meet you too.”