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Translating the Dead

two days after grandfather died

his letter arrived from Manila

sky blue aerogramme

trifolded and sealed

by the aunt who kept vigil

typing for him what words

he had left on the Smith Corona

with the broken lowercase i

that pierced holes through paper

I remember school nights

finding him still

awake listening

for my backpack’s thud

on the wood floor

leading to his bedroom

slowly he’d rise

a smoker’s cough

clearing his throat

his voice tunneling

in half-dark

Are you here now, hija?

a direct translation

from Tagalog

Nariyan ka na, anak?

meaning You’re here, child?

meaning I’ve been waiting, dear one

holding the crinkled sheet

against the October sky

I find another sky

deeper blue

pinpricks of light

shining like Day-Glo stars

Yes, Papa. I’m here.

from What Happens is NeitherFind more by Angela Narciso Torres at the library

Copyright © 2021 Angela Narciso Torres
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books.

Published in Angela Narciso Torres Poems

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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