Eternal Truth

Yesterday, you told me
we need to talk
I never doubted
this time would come

Somehow, I always knew
we would meet again
to confront the ghosts
of our past
I always knew

Just as it is certain
that the rains come in May
The sun rises after it sets
The poinsettias color the
world red in November
The fireflies blink light
where the air is pure
Death is sure to end
every life every where
This time would come

Between us an ocean,
different lives with
different perspectives
and the unbroken silence
of several summers
I changed my table calendar
more than ten times
Two years ago, I caught my
reflection in the mirror and
saw a woman who has grown in
years; the white hairs said it all
An eternity has passed
but not for a moment
did I doubt
This time would come

Somehow I always knew
that every truncated
conversation must be finished
Every issue demands a closure
And then we can move on

I always knew
We would
Just as daybreak follows
The most tempestuous night.

-3 May-

Meeting Her First Love After Six Thousand Days

In a sparsely crowded coffee shop they sit across each other
Between them an expansive space breathing with mordant
tobacco smoke and gauche colloquy on their children
The habit of silence for six thousand days fiercely competes
against the restrained eagerness to explore the past and
finish a truncated conversation, its incompleteness like the
troubled spirit of a man who, unready, departed the earth
And then his words slice through the awkward muteness
“What we had was real. I really loved you back then.”
Oh, rich, did he have the temerity to say those words?
The only things real to her were of fathomless pain and
colossal tragedy standing on the frail ashes of his love
He maneuvered the wheel, detoured and callously
dropped her stranded on the road of aimlessness
then drove away in tears, afraid to confront his goblins

Her eyes begin to burn with acerbic tears; they would
not cascade down her cheeks as if in proud protest
She summons the vision of the girl six thousand
days ago: confused, depressed, heart in shreds
The loneliness, the desperation that she seriously
thought of finally escaping by crossing the bar
Did he know out of her disheveled state and fragile
emotion she determined to reconstruct a life?
Between then and now things happened on their own
Her inexorable anguish. Her guilt. Her relationships.
His. Her marriage. His. Her strength of character.
Cell phones. His silence. Hers. Email technology.
His silence. Hers. The Philippines became the
world’s texting capital. His silence. Hers.
Their careers. Their comfortable places in society.
Their lingering youthful looks except for strands of
her grey hair and the lines of his fine wrinkles
His silence. Hers. The silence matured into a habit
and permeated the ample space between them.
He was heaved into the dustbin of her memory.
Finally. Or so she thought. Or wanted to think.

And after Earth rotated on its axis six thousand times
unexpectedly he sprang alive and said, “Let’s talk.”
Has she unconsciously been racing for ages toward
this chance to listen to the articulation of his reasons?
Way behind schedule, this moment is a gift so unlike
the taciturn indecipherable language of sixteen years
As muteness crumbles, it buries the aged emotional
hang-ups, now swiftly banished as a chimeral ghost
This reunion is the only reality as questions are cast
liberally while answers are copiously thrown back
Ah, so sweet is the realization that in love there is
not a space for forgiveness, only understanding
So liberating are the lessons learned on hindsight
Things unsaid and nurtured secrets transform into
baggage that prevent love in the context of freedom
You jettison your emotional suitcase and you soar high
and fly –eagerly- home where the warm nest waits.

The cobwebs are cleared, the blinding dust has settled
The smoke has dissipated, a torch is extinguished as
a new one is lit, a door closes while another one opens
And finally they stand facing each other to say goodbye
Without baggage in her heart, she takes her first steps
away from the past. But why are her footsteps heavy?

Why is this second valedictory
more poignant than the first?

To Manang Alyce (whom I met after her death)

(This was written the day I signed the petition condemning the death of Alyce Claver, a woman who lived her life for others. The Cordillera race will always be proud of this heroine as it will never get over her death.)

They snuffed out the life force within you,
but the seeds of discontent and enlightenment
germinated as your flesh joined the earth

In life thousands never held your hand;
in death you are there in their hearts
The revolted throng is swiftly trooping
to the thorny trails you sauntered
Your courage paralleled by those who
have gone ahead is their weapon

From my distance, the narrow long road
has been widened by meters and bounds
Youth has quickly blossomed by years
adept to unscramble conundrums of tragedy,
one day after dressing up dolls and draining
the power of battery-operated toy cars
The debilitated resolve of the mass consigned
to hunger and disease is revivified
The voices muted by fear and hopelessness
now demand every ear to listen, every arm to
act, every heart to feel and every mind to grasp

Alyce, your death accomplished that
Alyce, Alyce, listen to the throng
They are all there wanting a piece of you
They want a piece of your cause
Your killing is senseless but your death
is purposeful

Thank you, Manang Alyce. You died that we
in the here-and-now will live abundantly.
I submit my name for inclusion into the list
of those who condemn your death,
but draw strength from it.

-September 2006-