Privileging Space

By | 15 September 2022

We understand no love that is not in excess – Urvi Kumbhat

My sister.
Kumusta? It has been
a moment
and I know you still feel stanzas
in words
fearing they will take us back
to a federation
where walls spoke. /

I never questioned why redemption
kept moving:
hilltop halls behind a yellow-
brick church, the Filipino congregation
evangelical in the valley
toward the river,
further west.

We tithed then
on stackable chairs, on knees
of kuyas and titos
our lips, tambourines
to sugared bread. /

By fourteen, we’d saved five hundred
for the Build2Reach fund.
The pastors were blue-eyed
desperate to own
second-hand buildings.

You were banking


By then, we’d survived pesos

hand to mouth

in parking lots. /

And I earned too

a fiver

selling three-piece feeds
gravy, breast
rib and roll
to older people driving through
custom spoilers
and a muffler scraping
to clear the gutter. /

But I write this to you now
from a tiny house.
A residency on wheels.
(It’s a thing).

You see if I write the browner poem
I get distressed
linen, a compostable toilet
cassettes of
Joni Mitchell.

And aloneness.
We always wanted to be
this close.
The red brick flat. Two beds built in.
Eight of us trying
to model minority. /

(It’s been a long time).

And you’d be proud
I’m learning to squat
on Darkinjung country
above a creek, inland from

Lake Macquarie
Names we were taught, but that leave
as memorial. /

There used to be so much more
cedar here.

Of course, I also grieve infinity

water births.

You are, in fact
pregnant –

I remember you called once

before you left these parts

a wreck.

I listened to you FaceTime and fret

your fingers would find
the child inside you. /

So let me cry uncle

for the dresser and vanity
the split-level living,
and for you
to take the room
to return a first-born
in full terms. /
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