Monday, 21 June 2010
It’s my mother’s 70th birthday today. And I thought of a small personal way of celebrating it by posting finally two poems of her written several years back. The first one titled, A Monday with Mother, was included in the bunch of poems that earned me a slot at the 18th National Writers Workshop in 1990 with the University of the Philippines (the workshop that somehow sealed my fate to become a “suffering” poet). The second poem, Yokoshigure, took its being in a foreign clearing, here in Cambodia where I have been living for the last 10 years.
A Monday with Mother
Absence such as this from work
May present a load of sunshine
Now domestic on leaves,
Potted plants trapped in city drabness.
A puppy hushed now from an overnight
Sadness, kept away from dark hands
Gleaming with wire and knives;
My mother for life at grip
With all cares and distress.
I am at home writing letters
To people from unfamiliar territories
While mother sweeps away
What must not be kept,
Washing and cooking around
The small space of her world.
No speeches, grandiloquent or otherwise,
Frequent this house as now
We’re walled by our steep nightmares.
My mother could not touch
My silences anymore,
Being no longer her fine boy
Tumbling under the sun.
I have embraced her life,
I have weeded out
Her thorny concerns, having lived
All this fatal time heavy,
Earthy, and blank like water.
Quezon City, Philippines
Now I am detained by a driving rain, yokoshigure,
I gathered from Saiichi Maruya’s story,
Rain in the Wind, besides the smattering of Maori
Poems I have picked up in a library this morning of June.
From there I have taken this late lunch
In a backpackers’ hangout, my head spinning
From so much, all too much words I have been
Taking in like the rush of trains
All these past days, weeks, months.
If someone could suffocate from a surfeit of words
I could have long been dead
And had wandered off to a remote cold mountain
To live without books, live in blue silence.
But for now I have to get on with this rain,
Yokoshigure, through the phantom
Of Phnom Penh streets of shop houses,
The water swelling too soon to bring everything
To a sluggish motion- words,
Windows, bread, flower, hands, smoke.
I am longing to be relieved of this passage
As I gaze vacantly into the dark sky,
Wondering as well how mother keeps her time today,
Her birthday, in Cagayan de Oro with father
And my brother’s young family, as she thinks about us,
Her sons and daughters, and our disparate circumstances,
The reality of losing what was once
Gathered and nurtured, how distance
Can be immeasurable and powerful in defining
Our lives like the manner I go:
I walk away in a driving rain.
21 June 2003
Phnom Penh, Cambodia