Rain was sorrow, when it came. Rain was what we waited for.
We imagined he was still drunk, or that he had a second family.
We knew he had skipped out of town when mother
did not rebuke us for singing about rivers. The gardening
tools became indoors what they could not be
in the dirt: bed for the baby, walking stick, and hammer.
Everything is here, we said, stacking empty boxes to build
a house that would still favor us in the morning. His letters promised,
he was on his way. We memorized words that corresponded
to particular stages of the imagined, we held back
from interpreting happiness as something real, like the oracle's trance.
We kept cool. We voted for names for this nation
of three. Lines of sweat ran down our calves at midday.
We looked into the sky, cursing, then begging, for him
to knock on our door. To make it even. We imitated
clouds, followed their path as they slid sideways across the sky
like turtles lazy in a pond. We grew up fast, far from home.
Tsering Wangmo Dhompa is the author of three collections of poetry: My rice tastes like the lake, In the Absent Everyday and Rules of the House (all from Apogee Press, Berkeley). My rice tastes like the lake was a finalist for the Northern California Independent Bookseller’s Book of the Year Award for 2012. Dhompa's first non-fiction book, A Home in Tibet was published by Penguin, India, in September 2013. She lives in San Francisco and is pursuing a PhD degree in Literature at the University of California in Santa Cruz.
the Tuesday poem is curated by rob mclennan