if you have a child who is lost for seventeen years

if you lose a word

if you never see her shape


and if she has been a war-torn child

who has shattered to stay alive

and if she has hidden parts

she doesn’t always know

and if you do not know


but she has a child

and another

and you barely know more


until a policeman

until a lawyer

until a social worker

and her voice


when an apartment

when a mattress on a shelter floor

when a bed on the fourth floor

and she gives her things away



she wears flipflops in winter,

she has your sister’s voice

and a well of loneliness like your mother’s

and a giggle like her own

She calls you Faith

She calls you Bio Mom

She calls you Mom


you walk her street with pavement cracks and hidden maps,

eat her burrito and saag paneer,

buy her children ukeles,

bring leftover fried rice to

the man on the steps of the SRO

which is her home.


For now.