Under The Willow Tree

“In giving you away, I have given you the gift of life.”
I placed you on the top step. I kissed your forehead
and wrapped the corners of the blanket around your chin.

You must have thought I had left you to freeze.
You must have believed you were alone,
that is why you did not bother to cry.
You thought no one would hear you.
Were you so cold that your feeble heart lacked the strength to cry?

Or was it possible you understood my grief?

You must have thought you were abandoned- that I did not care.
But I was there, cheek pressed behind the wall, waiting,
watching when that beam of light burst over the steps
and cast a shadow on your body.

I watched as a slender figure emerged from behind the door.
I waited to hear a noise, some fated last goodbye
to escape from your tiny lips. But you were silent.
The door closed behind you as abruptly as it had opened

And it was I who was left alone in the dark.

My heart sternly told my eyes to tear away from the doorframe
you were no longer under.
My heart sadly told my body I had to leave,
to do what was impossibly right.

I held my leaking tears and your milk-stained bib
as I wove in and out of alleys, through the streets
overflowing with cars and people,
avoiding the baffled stares of women, wary stares of men,
and the curious stares of little children,
especially the little children.

Only when I found myself huddled against the station platform,
I stopped running from you.
For if I had I hesitated, back at those steps,
even for one second,

I would have knocked on that door and taken you back.

Now, while you live in a faraway land,
surrounded by the luxury of freedom and opportunity,
I pass my days here, watching
and waiting for a future I cannot have.
I sit in the park on a bench by a willow tree,
branches hanging low from the weight of all the unknown mothers
who have come to rest beside the stooped branches

In curiosity, longing and grief

I watch foreign women walk by with our girls bounding at their heels,
each fair, innocent face like yours.
They walk close, so close,
that I want to reach out and hold each girl’s hand,
and ask if you are fed good food, if you enjoy school,
if you are content with your life in the West.

If you ever think of the woman
who carried you in secrecy for nine long months,
who will forever worry about her unknown daughter
who only want to see you grown up, carefree, and cherished by your family.

But we are separated by two languages
two cultures, and two continents
You will not understand me, even if I ask.
So I watch as the mother and child walks past
and I continue to sit alone
under the willow tree.


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