Today is the 40th day death anniversary of my father and this involves another point of departure- final and immutable- to where he finds everlasting peace. Some months ago before he left for good, my father asked me to go on a road trip with him to Bicol. He planned to take me to parts of Sorsogon where I have never been before and we would visit our idyllic hometown, Sta. Magdalena, and survey his small coconut plantation on a hill. On my part I had been meaning to take him… to Cambodia for a change of sceneries and make him finally be in the land of the late King Sihanouk (whose political life he remembered well), the grandeur of Angkor temples, and harsh memories of Khmer Rouge. Sadly, these two life-changing trips did not happen.
I mark this day with a poem for my dear father, the last one I wrote for him when I was on my way home (4th of July) to be by his side at the hospital, hoping that he would recover and finally realize our wishes and plans.
En route to Father
An hour past Bangkok, the flight meal served,
I drink the coffee and stare at the coastline
Of Vietnam as we inch into the ocean.
The plane skirts the dark mass of clouds;
It goes smoothly into the blue,
Like a sensible act of keeping away
From a zone of fear
Or being cast with malediction.
As I stay airborne,
I drift between dread and hope.
But the quiet in the plane throbs
Like a prayer held inside a cathedral.
God, please look after my father.
Make him well from whatever
That afflicts him, allow him more years
To live amid the little happenings
In our lives, eat his small foods,
Soak up earth, beach, and sky
Of Sta. Magdalena,
Where his primal breath and roots sprang;
And perhaps this time the journey
To Cambodia whose history and politics
Will charm his curious mind.