A Small Gesture by Dawn Angelicca Barcelona

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.”

dawn-angelicca-barcelona
Bio: Dawn Angelicca Barcelona is a New Jersey born-and-bred poet who graduated from Rutgers University in 2014. Her English honors thesis on Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s Dictee inspired her to live and work in South Korea for two years where she worked for The Fulbright Program, teaching English to elementary school students and serving as the Editor-in-Chief of The Fulbright Korea Infusion literary magazine. Now back in the U.S., Dawn continues to write poetry and works on the talent team at MuleSoft in San Francisco.
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