If you smell a lit candle with no candle to be found, it is this haibun burning

after torrin a. greathouse

When my mother told me the news / I waited all night to smell the sampaguita / wanting to be the first
grandchild you visited before leaving / the first after only my father / who might not have seen you
from the bathroom light filling his room / To tell you the truth / I was scared for the darkness to claim
your form / to rinse the grief from my face and see your eyes in the mirror / milky with sadness / I
curled my toes beneath my blankets / thought of my mother / her father’s palm curving into the arch
of her foot / Of course / she flew to the Philippines for his funeral / and this was his way of welcoming
her home / I wanted to show you Mississippi / Our trees are blossoming / Some nights / it rains so
hard / there are sirens that wail / I don’t know if I explained the life I am living / I learn about things
like elegies / and when they take on meaning / I have to stay home / You used to say you didn’t
understand Confession as a sacrament / or how a man in uniform could be any closer to God / Let me
tell you this without the intercession of angels / I’m sorry I never wrote / never called / sorry I built an
altar without having anything to offer / I smelled the smoke / not the sampaguita / I found the
invisible candle your son taught me to wait for

//

  the sampaguita  
  leaving   my father /   you
  the   light filling his room /   I was scared   to claim
  the grief   / I
  thought of  
  the Philippines  
  blossoming /  
  living  
  elegies  
  a sacrament   to God / Let me
tell   the   angels  
  / I smelled the smoke /   the sampaguita /
  the invisible candle  

//

  the sampaguita  
  filling   the grief  
  of   living  
  angels  
  smell   the smoke  

Noreen Ocampo has long black hair, wears golden glasses and a black long-sleeved shirt, and smiles at the camera. Behind her are trees with orange and green leaves.

Noreen Ocampo is a Filipino American writer and poet from metro Atlanta. Her collection Not Flowers won the 2021 Variant Lit Microchap Contest, and she is also the author of There Are No Filipinos in Mississippi, forthcoming from Porkbelly Press in 2024. Her work can be found in AAWW’s The Margins, Sundog Lit, and Depth Cues, among others. She holds a BA in English from Emory University and studies poetry in the MFA program at The University of Mississippi, where she is working to document and elevate stories of Filipino Americans in the Deep South.