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The Hundredth Monkey Phenomenon
by Eileen R. Tabios

 

The socialite-wife—
The nanny—
La profesora—
The CEO—

The student—
The soldier—
The orphan—
The fruit-vendor—

The artist—
The politician!—
The prostitute—
The nun—

The poet—
The high-school drop-out—
The visitor from Rome—
The one who stayed—

Manila Bay rose
to flood through the palace—
in its wake floated

broken diamond rosaries
German guns, American ammo
camouflage wear crafted from thickened silk
seven-inch heels, both ribboned and strapless
tins of caviar, strongboxes for deceit
Etcetera, etcetera…Bahala na…--

The sea brought its salt—

The political dissident in New York City—
The pole-dancer in Tokyo—
The hotel receptionist in Tuscany—
The fictionist in Hawai’i—

The grocery owner in Chicago—
The plumber in Los Angeles—
The orange grower in Fresno—
The child-care worker in Singapore—

The janitor in Bahrain—
The cook in London—
The teacher in Washington—
The next generation in Iowa City—

Wake up on a Boston bed
with sheets askew and wet—

Once, a snow-haired grandmother
arranged her carefully-preserved malong
with slow, deliberate strokes
and began to share her story—

The nearby sea was calm
its clear water
mirroring distant mangroves and islets
to transform them into clouds
floating in the vast, pale blue—

In her slow and lilting voice
U’po Majiling chanted

Everything begins with a dream—

[First published in OCHO, Ed. Didi Menendez]

© Eileen R. Tabios

 

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