by Angela Gabrielle Fabunan
it’s the land of milk and honey,
cows oozing milk, white dots
on the landscape, spots
on the green fertile grass
and the yellowing bees
seem to be doing fine too,
as we drive in upstate new york.
but back in zambales country
our cows are one brown, unifying color
and they are starving, their horns
honed to the one tree, leaves withered.
there is no grass under their feet—
there is only ashen dirt, where
the sun hits the fiercest, noontime.
memory of balasiw:
low bamboo beds, stiff on the back,
dried fish from the market for breakfast,
then chatter, a roasted native
chicken for lunch that the men chased
and wrung the neck off themselves
like they do to their women, the women
harvest chili leaves and corn and make soup
then a long unwinding siesta, more chatter,
then dinner, pickings from our farm.
laying down my back to the bamboo
i would count the leaves
above my head, dreaming
of snow, and my dad was bright and alive
then, there in the hot, humid december,
decades ago before he would die
in a frigid hospital while the snow fell.
there is that one house in flushing, ny
wherein every thanksgiving, we
would take our holiday sweaters and gather
‘round the frosted green metal lawn chairs,
stuffing turkey till we grew tired,
i guess, of family gatherings.
now, everyone’s grown, except for me,
who will probably never be quite grown up
frozen in time as the past, wherein
our sailor, our figurehead—my father—
in his love of travelling
constantly discovered new grounds
however shaky, to build upon,
never knowing who would stay
and who would stomp away.
in the airplane window,
the shadows the clouds make are like
dreams, of old and new mingling,
the fluidity of the sky and the ocean
marrying into the horizon.
I used to look not in mirrors but in people
for my own reflection hoping to learn
seeing an ugly spot in the horizon that disturbs
But you are like the water that fills the empty
pool, caged as it is by boundaries and frosted
with leaves which interrupt so often the reverie.
In the ripples, I no longer see traces of myself
but you, only you, in all your terrible sublime
removing this tendency to gaze longingly, but to blink
willing to enter death as myself. No longer
do I stand by a pool, but by a spring of wellness
the water coming in waves from the Caretaker
and I, in this bedroom by your figure, feel
no threat of rain to brim the water to overflow
but simply the dance of the sun on the sheets
and I am too human not to think that
this moment will pass, but I am certain
in wanting not to use you as a mirror
I am seeing with the naked eye, for once.
i will stare at that bed until i have borne a hole within it.
you, my dearly beloved, have departed.
the bed that hasn’t been laundered for months
my earthly body sticking to the sheets.
through the mirror, we screen our reflections for hints
of you, but you are so convoluted in our imagery
perhaps our vanity is justified, for how can you know
someone so sincerely aside from yourself?
if only to fit you in—are you the grass perhaps, that grows
around the flowers by the water, that betrays its solitude?
if only i wasn’t so into myself, perhaps i would have been more
into you. my one desire is to know more about who i am.
it’s not physical, that act, it’s meiosis. it’s the beginning
of every poem, that i. but somehow you are there,
in the space between the stanzas, in the music,
in the still water between the lilypad and the narcissus.