143: Untitled

143: Untitled

Untitled
by Sesshu Foster

A friend slept on the fold-out couch, going home from
Mexico. We stayed up past midnight, laughing in the
kitchen as the children slept, talking about friends in the
Bay Area; they used to use our house as a station to send
Salvadorans north. We laughed so much my cracked rib
hurts. I think about my dad, his broken wrist and broken
ribs, sitting alone at the kitchen table in the rooming
house in San Jose. Almost 70, hurting a bit, too tired
to move, his kitchen is not on the sunny side of the
house. Dad, our children grow in their sleep. The baby
had a bad night, crying for more than an hour, feverish,
coughing a painful dry cough. The phone rings first
thing in the morning, everyone as tired as we were last
night. Our friend has gotten up before us to shower
and hit the road before we can say goodbye. He’s left
behind a note. Instead of talking to him, I’m answering
the phone: it’s a coworker who wants me to take care
of some union business. It’s Sunday and I don’t want
to see her, but her job depends on it. The kids come in
to tell me they have a spot growing on the ceiling of
their room. A brown stain, something from the winter
rains that just passed. Like the old days I once thought
I was living in, vanished in this bright morning sunshine.
It’s a rare day in L.A. when you can see the stubby San
Gabriel Mountains this clear, and beyond them rolls
the Colorado Plateau, a high winter desert crossed by
railroad from yards outside of Denver, highways across
cold vast empty stretches of America. It’s another
day. The woman is coming to see me about some
work-related papers. How to start again? How to wake
up? Someone is knocking on the door. The kids are up,
talking and laughing. I hurry to put water on to boil.
The phone is ringing again. I want one cup of tea. One.

An untitled poem by Sesshu Foster from CITY TERRACE FIELD MANUAL by Sesshu Foster. Copyright © 1996 by Sesshu Foster. Used by permission of Kaya Press.

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