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AFTER THE LAUNDRY -- Poem

AFTER THE LAUNDRY

I eat pig ears in Cebu. Its skin oil
drops in the ember fire

and there is a girl who brings me a plastic
plate. She has a leprous father

and they live in the village
by the swamp. Every morning

before I teach her at school,
she ladles the water and washes clothes.

In her mind she knows
she cannot leave from here

even though she has a one-way
train ticket. This particular

girl is only six years old.
She uses a wooden washboard

and there are never
bubbles in the basin.

After the laundry,
she likes to collect plastic pieces

and make an imaginary
rainbow. I collect them with her

without soaking my fingertips.
The swamp reflects

algae and rubble
by nightfall and daybreak.

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