to my father
Some things leave us like a sigh. Your father,
puffing out his chest, with no fanfare,
walked out on your family for another.
When he returned to live off you and mother,
he filled our two-room flat with his sour air.
Some things should leave us: a sigh like your father.
No one among your seven sisters and brothers
would take him in. For ten years, you took care
to leave him alone polishing, one after another,
his walking trophies—applying wax to smother
the golden tokens while listening in his chair
for something. Leaving us. Sighing, your father
tuned his battered radio to a voice farther
than yours, not once asking his son to repair
what’s left or trade the set in for another.
His funeral rounded up your sisters and brothers.
The women wailed. You were the only heir
of something leaving, like a sigh. Your father.
An early version of this poem was published in "Love Gathers All: The Philippines-Singapore Anthology of Love Poetry" ed. Aaron Lee, Alvin Pang, Krip Yuson and Rayvi Sunico, 2002.