I looked for Superman
and he was gone.
Out of the rubble, a sepia-stained photograph
with a small boy laughing, flanked by four sisters,
propped on his father's lap.
The ache in my chest felt familiar, wind knocked out,
and I could barely watch but hardly turn away
as my dad held the phone to his ear like a shell
having just lost its ocean sound.
His mom, my Abuelita, had gone to bed
and he wouldn't be able to see her before
This is probably the last time we're going to see Abuelita,
he said to s, throwing away the words,
with an eerie matter-of-factness,
the reserve ducts behind his eyes
gently dampening the outskirts of his irises.
I knew then that there would never be enough time
to say I love you to the ones I protect myself from.
When it all cuts so deep
you fasten the wounds closed like curtains,
afraid that everything will flood out
if you open them.
I don't want to need an excuse
to place my hand softly over my grandmother's
shaking knuckles while she watches her telenovelas
or hug my sister for too long when I remember
how she taught me to taste food with my fingers
or say something I might have put off
until the last possible second I could.
It's hard to see a god lose his grace
and suddenly become more beautiful
when he falters,
the moon like a spotlight
amplifying it all.
We stood in that dimly lit parking lot
below her high rise for far too long, as if
the moment had a long awaited answer
we would have to earn to take with us.
As the time passed, my father's wrinkles deepened
in the shadows, his walk crumpled slightly near the car
and I opened my mouth to tell him something
I'd been building the courage for 12 years to say,
forgetting it suddenly,
when he turned back around.
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