Love (Or Why Some People Can't Talk About It)

This time, let us get a bit mushy and talk about love.

What if you are so in love with somebody and s/he with you but you have to keep your relationship a secret? I imagine a desperate call of nature that must be ignored. Is that possible?

I have a friend in Switzerland who is in that situation. This friend emailed me today about it. He loves the other person so much I could feel his heart burst. However, he and the other person have to keep their relationship a secret and this he finds very frustrating. Why the secrecy? The way I understand it, their entanglement is a risky journey into the forbidden. I mean that is how a prejudiced society would look at it. Secrecy is their protection from the sharp thorns of public judgment guaranteed to inflict deep punctures into their friable souls.

“Maybe you could write a poem about us,” my friend said. His story affected me the way the Greek tragedies did. I found myself feeling the same angst after reading “Noli Me Tangere” and "El Filibusterismo" the first, second, third and last times. I will read them again and wallow in the inconsolable sorrow of Maria Clara upon receiving news of Crisostomo Ibarra's death, and of Simoun upon Maria Clara's death. (By the way, and this has to be said: Joe Rizal is, to me, not THE Philippine national hero, but I consider him the finest writer ever produced by the Filipino nation because of "Noli Me Tangere".)

It was providential. I was looking for inspiration to weave words into poetry. Voila, it was there right at my doorstep, or rather, my mailbox. So I sat down in front of my computer and played with the keyboard. Here is the finished product. I am not really sure if the title is the best I could come up with.

(For Fred as He Dreams on the Foot of the Alps)

He is mine in opaque spaces
unexplored by the public eye
Holding his hand, I see the
Alps twirl in rapturous delight
The perishing dark flirts with the
early morn as it kisses the dew
The wars are stilled by peace;
nightmares are soothed by dreams
The summer rain capitulates to
the sunshine; they resuscitate a
stiff edelweiss struggling from
the cold under the white snow
Life is beyond Death’s reach

I am a hideous flower transformed
to beauty after its maiden kiss from
the handsomest bee in Eden
I know how Bathsheba felt under
David’s admiring, eager stare
From my lover's lips freely stream
the words I implored from every
lover in my honeyed fantasies
Juliet, my heart capers as yours
did when Romeo professed his
love; it was too beautiful to end
Death had to give it eternal life
in the lovely legend it became
It is no myth from Shakespeare’s
gossip mill; it is my reality when I,
within the confines of invisible
places, explore his naked body and
enter the farthest corner of his soul

Alas, in the parks, in the church,
in the presence of the crowd
I am a stranger to my lover
and he to me, it hurts so deep
I feel like the scorned kept woman
in the shoddy love triangle movies
But I am not his kept woman

Ecstatic in the absence of light
Heartbroken without the dark


-8 June 2007-

The cat is out of the bag! My Swiss friend is a man in love with another man. If this makes you throw up or otherwise gives you some discomfort, you just flunked the “open-mindedness” test and passed the bigotry examination with flying colors. I warn you: Do not watch Brokeback Mountain. It is too beautiful a love story to make anyone puke. I suggest that you watch Autumn in New York, or Love Affair, or The Notebook, or Message in A Bottle, or City of Angels or Anna and the King(Alam ninyo, sumama ang loob ko sa tadhana. Kasi, masyadong maagang pinanganak itong si Chow Yun-Fat. Doon pa sa malayong lugar. Nawala lang ang tampo ko nung pinagtagpo kami ng kapalaran ng asawa ko. When God closes a window, He opens a door. Iyon pala ang ibig sabihin).

Meantime I say to Fred: The only hope is liberation. We should not relent in our struggle for it. Homophobia is a harsh prison society constructed for itself. No wonder we are stranded in the period of Inquisition, except that the forms of torture used against victims have evolved. The task of convincing society to stage a jail break is not an easy one, but this should not discourage us.

The longest journey starts with a single step.
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