Tag Archives: memories

The Tidal Zone

A memory of my last night standing in the salty spray of the Pacific before leaving for six months.

waves become kisses lipping at
the smooth skin of the sand gentle
at first rougher then rougher
until the surface breaks water
crests over the spray
knocks pebbles loose like little
teeth the tidal zone breaks open
rocks become breakers for the
waves Continue reading The Tidal Zone

[You’ll Never Hear Me Say It]

This is shaping up to be a week of strange juxtapositions. I had this poem ready to go Monday evening, but somehow couldn’t put the finishing touches on it until today. Boredom and distraction strike all too quickly, and yet, there hardly seems enough time in each day to get some work done…. Anyways, all this dreary stuff to say that last weekend was a delight, and so, for once, I’ve got a joyful poem for you.

You’ll never hear me say it, but I’m

part of me wonders:
what did I miss?
those few days spent together
turned to ten years spent apart
and yet, we are richer for it

Somehow our friendship survived

the death of a parent
the deconstruction of our families
the gentle growth of new life
friendships, bridges built
on a foundation once crumbling

You’ll never hear me say it, but I Continue reading [You’ll Never Hear Me Say It]

The Death of My Mother as a Movie in Post-Production

The camera pans slowly, no
more quick cuts because
by now the
director’s used to
directing, the producer’s
used to producing, the dead
are used to being
shoved into a little porcelain
cup in the dirt, coupled with
those little porcelain
pythos at the back of our
mental shelving units.

The take is edited so that good
parts come first, and bad
parts are hidden behind
them. The take is edited so that
we aren’t looking at the camera (by
accident) or drowned in
the British Columbian
rain-showers. The take is edited so
that the year is summed up in a
neat little montage, played against
a backdrop of David Guetta:
Titanium and Nine Inch Nails:
La Mer.

Can we please get a mic over
here to catch this important
moment before it degenerates into
something so profoundly unscripted
that we can’t use it in the
finished film? Thanks
very much.

The cast is set, with
lines memorized
and makeup applied, which is
kinda funny because the audience
won’t see the reality of
weeks spent rehearsing dance
numbers and musical
arrangements. Instead, all they
see is the finished product, sparkling
and a little too perfect, a full
year after the actual
event has occurred.

Post-production is always like a
unicycle trying to tap
dance: the question lies in how
to balance budget and performance
quality while trying to make a lot
of noise in time to the music and
also not fall down. They do get it right
eventually (it’s all about finding the
right person to head the team) and
there’s a few thousand dollars left
for graveyard flowers and college
tuition deposits.

I imagine it
now. The premiere. The theater
fills with anticipatory
remarks. The hush falls suddenly with
the rising curtain, and legal
guardians quiet their adoptive children:
the show has begun.

The fateful year of
production, now condensed
into two hours of select highlights
and all the important bits, plays
out in front of a sold-out
crowd. The end is
heartbreaking. The screen turns
black like six p.m. The credits roll
to thundering applause. A standing

April 25/17

I Remember

If you wanted to categorize me you’d call me a TCK. A Third Culture Kid.

The funny thing is, it’s a category for people who don’t fit the categories, who don’t fit one culture or another, but are stuck somewhere in between the fresh-water-drinking-taps-wet-leaves of Austria and the sickly-sweet-Jolly-Bee-pasta-and-jackfruit of the Philippines. Then throw in black-city-streets and coloured-playground-pufuleti-Romania and Vancouver-rain-mountain-syrup-Canada and you may have me figured out. Or maybe not. It’s pretty complicated, eh?

Whatever I am, I know I’m made up of memories. And sometimes they come running at me when I don’t expect it; they hit me like a jeepney or a 300-pound moose. So I write poetry. Because what else would I do?

I Remember

I remember the grass under the mango tree
– cut short
unlike the roadside blades
that used to slice at my feet as I walked

I remember dogs crowding on a rooftop
and remember nursing my pup
because we found her on the street
lying by our chainlink door with a bloody elbow

I remember telling her stories when I was sad
– she listened –
and finding a baby bat by the chain
that kept her from getting at our shoes

I remember sunsets on Mindoro
and pebbles bouncing down a mountainside
– my parents said they were boulders
rolling down from Mt. Mayon

I remember taping grey ash
to every single letter we mailed
because it rained down from the sky
and people back “home” didn’t know what that felt like

I remember the whitewashed front porch in Ligao
and finding a baby chicken in the bushes
and climbing the tree with the dangerous nest in it
while all the uniformed kids sang the anthem by the flagpole

I remember slipping in rice-field mud
and crying because my green dress got dirty
while wading through the water
and crossing over a tree and into a village

I remember getting chased by a scary dog
running from shadows
seeing a cobra in the dust
and hearing the Tokko* make noises by my bedroom window

I remember being told to hide under my bed
if anyone ever broke into the house
while my parents were away
– and I heard about those guns stockpiled under the kiosk too

I remember collecting bottlecaps
and saving up Pesos
to buy thin peanut butter cookies
or cheap pop handed out in a plastic bag with a straw

I remember begging my parents to buy me
the local ube**-flavored ice cream
and remember my dad eating balut
almost-hatched duck eggs, a delicacy

I remember sitting in the back of the car
and hitting my head on the roof
because Quirino Highway was bumpy
– filled with more potholes than actual road

I remember sliding down smooth rocks
and putting hibiscus flowers in my hair
or playing with the red blossoms
that could be chained into jewelry

I remember roosters crowing in the morning
and cats eating out leftovers
I remember feeding milk to kittens
and old pasta to Oliver, the grizzled tom who only let me pet him

I remember finding big bugs in our sandbox
and stepping on a giant thorn
and finding an orange spider
that was at least ten centimeters wide

I remember eating jackfruit and banana heart
drinking flavored milk
that came in plastic packages
and feasting on lechon, chicken adobo, and pancit

I remember being scared of the ocean
but playing in it anyways
I remember finding huge shells on the beach
and I remember what swallowing salt water felt like as a kid

I remember the day we found a toad in the toilet
the day I got a rash over my whole body
the day my brother ate a cockroach
the day we accidentally ate carabao*** instead of beef

I remember tuberculosis
and knocking down a stand of bitter green herbs
I remember hole-in-the-ground bathrooms
and how precious fresh water ran out of a hand-operated pump

I remember the weeks we had without electricity
because of typhoons
– seeing the banana palms twist and fall down
seeing streets flood with water and debris

And I remember the day we arrived
ignorant of customs and food
– ignorant of how our lives would play out
just waiting for the silver-blue jeepney to round the corner
and bring us home

Jan 19/16
*technically Tokay, a large nocturnal gecko referred to as “Tokko” because of the sound it makes. It’s bite can be dangerous to children
**a purple-colored type of yam
***water buffalo