San Jose, Costa Rica

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Doña Mary said, Come. Not Here, help me or even Lo siento,
just Come, and led me to her china cabinet. Turned the key,

as I moped like congealed spaghetti on the couch
inconsolable over my wallet, stolen on a crowded bus,

began extracting each glass, each dish, each vase,
handed me, one by one, the fragile objects. We washed

and dried, assembling them like looted treasure, polished
each shelf with graying rags. She lifted a vase, tall and thin

as a prepubescent girl, and told the story of her husband’s death
ten years earlier. Abel. Her espadrilles shushed across the floor

from sink to cabinet; water sparkled the wedding ring
she still wore. It was long past 2:00 a.m.

when plates were re-stacked, glasses carefully lined,
tiny bells sparkling even the dull overhead light.

Now, I understand this is the purest form of comfort:
not to say I’m sorry or Que lástima, but to take hands, share tasks,

stand beside, be six-year-olds comparing scabs, lost
in color and texture, hands busy in pressing, picking, telling.