by Abner Dormiendo

Meaning, I am home; meaning at some point
I have left home; meaning to know home
I must go somewhere else. Here, I have known
the language of arrivals and departures,
an almost native eloquence on the language
of precision: trains shuffling, blossoms showing
their blush, everything unfurling as if
on schedule. Since I bore the name foreigner,
every day had been winter in this country—
a cold so constant, even anodyne. My body shivers,
hands seeking shelter other than the flaps
of my coat or the gloves I bought miles back.
Every night I return to this place I temporarily
call home, utter my presence like a prayer
to the sleeping furniture, mute walls and windows
unresponsive, save for the tap dripping welcome
in intervals. But days like these, when leaves
from the tree outside spin like so many green
cocoons, heavy with anticipation, when they turn
just enough for sunlight to grace through these
dusty windows, I dream of the city where you are
right now, how time is measured in an almost
carefree manner, loose like sand on the cracked
asphalt—by how construction cranes align
their shadows to the ground, the many warm-skinned
trees punctuating the boulevards, their branches
conducting a music sang by the tropical breeze,
jeepney barkers with names of places resting
on their tongues, their throats burning with
the promise of home. I wish to be there,
beside you, my hands cupping your face like light
against the cheek of a fruit, the warmth a sign that
this is home. And if you ask me where I have been,
I will answer: Love, I never left.

(Previously published in Heights, vol. LXIII no. 3, 7)