danza con la profesora, 3

For Manang Perting Asuncion, because she dared to dance with me

The lilt of your body, frail and living,
is what I know. I am embarrassed a bit

to admit that somewhere in our common steps
even as we danced the afternoon away

I was feeling low and old while you
told me of your mountain home

with your pets of chickens that responded
to your calling as if names were all

that mattered to what we cannot regret.
Now I know: I promised to make your life story

and I never got to chapter one. You promised me
the manuscript of your honesty and labor. You did.

I hold in my hands this conceit, my own,
even as think of how to retell what beauty

you have sown into my own soul. You touched us so
beyond the sorrowing pages that we know.

You leave, finally, but you are lingering on,
I know, even stay a while longer, seeing us,

perhaps deciding not to leave at all but there,
beyond all these that bother us everyday

such as how to write our grief in the rhythms
of the last plaintive song we danced together.

Hon, HI

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