Balikbayan

— R. A. Villanueva

Name a brother’s son Pterodactyl, hold
him to the sky and watch the boy compare
your face to his father’s—shape of the eyes,
folds of a mouth. When he brings his forehead
to meet yours, see the mark, there, a soft red
same as the bruise between your brother’s eyes
(gone now) left by a fastball to his face
that summer on the front lawn. You told Dad

it was nothing and hoped he’d miss the seams,
the blood just below the skin. Years ago,
in Batangas, Grandpa wanted to see
the ocean, so you cut his hair, took him
to the coast, and sat him on the sand. You
spoke of salt and home; he practiced your names.


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