The hallways lead through the belly of
hospital, hotel, laundry service, nowhere.
These vague industrial spaces with safety doors
reading Alarm Will Sound if Opened
in this cement and cinderblock gullyway
lead me to florescent-lit workers who cannot
identify the woman I hold forward in a tired
photograph. A few more corridors and I can find
only steamy pots of bleach or stew abandoned
by immigrants dispersing through other doors.
I know this woman was from across wars, capsized
rafts and droughts and more wars and I,
with my sweat and smells, broken nails,
and stained teeth, well, it’s a kind of
devotion which summoned me to this journey.
In this, my country, we lay a body down on a bed,
in a white nightdress, a blanket and a pillow
for her head, for the family to weep and to
identify and later the newspapers have to say
they were wrong, you were not a prostitute or
addict. The message still: you didn’t belong.