I’d come alone to carry on the search for father.

The institutional building where the search took place

was labyrinthine—there were many stairwells

and many doors to offices and apartments

in the stairwells. But this was where they’d told me

he would be. I entered a kind of vestibule area, where

many people crowded. At first, I seemed to know

where to look, but soon I got waylaid—at one point

in a restaurant-kitchen area, at another at a doctor’s

waiting room. An attractive, young bi-racial girl

passed by and told me that she too was looking

for her father. I followed her, but lost her amongst

another hubbub of people. I was still unhurried

and certain where I’d find my father. I imagined

him with a woman, charming her or already

engaged in sex. At this point, I asked a woman

in the corridor whether she’d seen a stocky,

muscular black man with a certain air about him,

and realised I was describing someone the woman—

a middle-aged black woman—would likely have found

irresistible. It struck me I should have mentioned

his advanced age. Later, I was sure I saw him at

the top of a stairwell, talking with a woman. I was

certain now I’d reach him. I went up the stairwell

where I thought he’d be, but was confronted with

door after door, one looking like another. I listened

at a door where I thought I heard voices—a woman

with a whining voice that could have been my mother’s.

But the door was not an entrance—it was some sort

of exit or back entrance. I continued up the winding

staircase until I was out on the street, and looked upon

row after row of multi-coloured doors to different

offices, houses and apartments. I realised then that

it was hopeless. I’d have to go back to the beginning.

– from A MORE PERFECT UNION: A SERIAL POEM (forthcoming)

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