"to pour out our hoarded selves on a daily basis to be more than what we are. . ."
-Maiden Editorial, Our Own Voice, January 2001
Now you see her, now you don't, in between symbol curtains and syllables of poems. She belly-dances up in rare air to enter dreamscapes, teasing out with her tongue, seven thousand islands. Her sampaguita necklace spreads rumors and rainbows across the Pacific Ocean, which she drains into broken cups, made of coconut husks, (if not of words), like wax paper twists of remembering what she is made of and what she has hoarded as a mirror self.
She enters dark rooms, closets, forgetfulness, essences of the dead, those who are condemned to believe, bottles of vinegar, eyes of pineapples, drops of holy oil, the fluvial procession of patron saints and gumamelas, narra trees, ang bahay kubo, sa ilalim ng tulay, and swims in an endless river of tears. She pours daily into life more than what she is and what she can never be again. She mourns, in rhymes.
In her youth, she had auctioned her piano intentions to foreign investors, and gathered, in sleep, a citizenship, a job, bank accounts, brand new cars, a husband, children, houses, mortgages. Daily journal entries dusted her many faces and novels hibernated in her long wait for her life to begin again, a forest of grievances, in repainted scrolls.
She drifted in silence, in the mausoleum quiet of her generation, buried herself in another generation, her entire heart embroidered on banana peels, while she counted full moons in succession, after full moons, crafted echoes on emblem pages, where heresies reverberate.
Now the end of the world is coming. Water rushes into her body like punishment, boiling with cancer secrets.
Grief insinuates into her fingers, the long, fire claws of a devil.
She steps out into light, her eyes blinded with urges and years of scuttling inside texts, under the ground of clinic sessions, uncertain of the person she had been, suspicious of the person she must become.
She plucks out from flesh the rhythm of her breathing, strums guitars, out of her will to live, walks among prophets, salespersons of healing, angels of mercy, and pursues God, who baits her with future regrets.
She is a tentative idea of a national sentiment. She bleeds in her radiated skin and hails a jeepney at Dapit Hapon, a copy of its original afternoon despair, and recalls the magnificence that was Quiapo, in its crackling pandemonium, those spirit rides as a woman without goals, a woman without the purpose of those whose claim to poetry is as real, as urgent as solstice heat.
Shortly, she will sidestep into jammed bamboo poles, in the quick, frantic leaps of tinikling, into the familiar road full of ghosts who must forever speak, full of the power of desire, full of the endlessness of sorrow, her insoles bare, back into her homeland, not as a corpse, but playing a game. She sculpts hope into the shape of a rose garden, vacated by absolute darkness, nurtured in blood, blooming with songs, brutalized by loneliness, inspired by the dying.
© Jessie Badillo
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