It’s because I am my father’s daughter

that I notice it: that white switch,
pristinely modern against the cracked concrete walls.
The wiring snakes up,
its plastic shell protecting it
from a day’s worth of humidity
and many years’ worth of grime.
The fluorescent overhead collects dead flies.

If only I had my grandfather’s
electric thumb, the one that rigged Chinatown up
with neon lights, gas stoves, and music speakers.
Then I would press my palms against the wall
to spark the room with just a finger flick.
And I would mark the overall result as “good:”
The room glows Christmas tree bright
and fluorescence sweeps away the shadows
so the world sees—


The rusted beds?
The stained ground?
The barred windows?
The tourists cringe and the locals mourn
as man-made illumination glares out
from the darkness of what man has done.

And yet

the air in the room pulses, charged,
and my blood hums with its voltage

Let there be—
Let there be—
Let there be—

the breathless exhales trail off,
hungry for the final word



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