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‘Kissing My Father’ by Joseph O. Legaspi

— Joyce Chong

Three days into his wake my father has not risen.

Loss can bring sorrow or regret or remorse or bitterness or, perhaps, a new perspective, an opportunity to address the past now that some part of its future has been shifted. ‘Kissing My Father’ by Joseph O. Legaspi is a succinct and rooted illustration of the combination of mixed emotions and memories that accompany losing someone close yet imperfect to you.

I stand over my father
as I had done on occasions
of safe approach: in his sleep, or splayed
like a crushed toad on the floor, drunk.

How do we come to terms with the emotions the world tells us we should feel in the face of loss, with the inexplicable emotions we are left with in its concrete presence? Legaspi is unflinching, the language is almost objective, but so far from being devoid of significance, of personal revelation. There is a distinct note of forward momentum in the poem’s conclusion. The past having been visited, acknowledged, without becoming lost in its complications. There is a finality in certainty itself.

How strange to see one’s face inside
a coffin. The son at my most peaceful.
The father at his most peaceful.