May iniisip ka?
Ayaw kong sabihin. Baka magkatotoo.
Dahil makulit ka
Kilala kita. Oo, ikaw 'yun: Nagkasalubong na tayo minsan, sa LRT, sa Gotohan, sa kanto ng Aurora at Katipunan. Nagkatinginan tayo. Hindi mo ako kinausap, pero alam ko, nakilala mo rin ako. Kaya ka narito, di ba? Para sabihing, Oo, oo, ikaw nga 'yun. Naaalala kita.
na, mula noong 24 Enero, 2006, ang nakitambay dito
Poem Written After the Long Ride from the Airport
Monday, February 19, 2007
Hello said the girl at departures. Hello said the guy at the baggage counter. Goodbye said the tarmac to a hundred waving hands. Goodbye said the girl to the flood-battered shack by the railroad tracks, said she to the weather-torn archipelago, said you to me while the stars dreamed dreams of soil and salt, shifting shorelines, land bridges before the last ice age. Goodbye said you and in maybe two, three years you’d be back with a guitar and maybe we could sing. In a book by me you’d have another name. In a song by me I’d call you Lala and in the chorus I’d sing your name over and over again and everyone else would sing along but no one would know that it was your name they were humming like small birds to. A small bird that loves nectar. That hovers over flowers. Goodbye said the petal, but I know you’ll be back by midnight, when I’ll be cold, asleep, silver like moonlight.
The waiting is long and you need to pee but all the stories about stolen luggage make you want to pee into a styrofoam cup instead. Remember when Dad drove the pickup into a tree? Remember your first mug of coffee? In that song by me Dad would be there too but he wouldn’t drive the pickup into a coconut tree. He’d ram it into the gates of hell and they won’t let him in, the devils, the muffled voices saying something about stealing Satan’s throne. But you loved Dad, him and his card tricks and days when we couldn’t watch cartoons. Him with a beer watching a boxing match while we were locked upstairs, our ears against the termite-ridden plywood walls, listening to the neighbor’s radio, to a rapper telling us to look not for beauty. But for what? Here I am saying you loved him as if he were dead. Or as if you don’t anymore. But of course you do, the way you said goodbye to him too, a cigarette in hand, airplanes howling overhead. Quarters, you said, not benchingko, goodbye you said while your words drifted like a tattered rubber slipper floating on floodwater. Then rain like rust. Pocketfuls of mud.
I see you in the webcam of my mind and you’re feeding ninety-year-olds osterized papayas. Play-dough. Mashed brains of homeless Vietnam vets. I see you and they’re begging you to put salt on their pancakes. Fucking retirement homes, even pancakes taste like soil. And what does soil taste like? Like a two-second delay over the whine of static, like hello on my tongue as I pull the phone closer to my mouth. No, Daddy never drove the pickup into a tree. No, we never owned a pickup. We owned old newspapers and a pair of slippers each. We owned marbles and kites and toy trucks with plastic wheels that wobbled over gravel. If I were a tire I’d be full of mud and I’d hate the tropics. If you were a tire you’d go round and round. If you were a ferris wheel. Goodbye said you on the cold ascent. Goodbye and please pass the salt. Goodbye like a coin down a payphone, down a vending machine, hello said the coke and it’s so goddamn cold.
Goodbye said the poem though not everything had been said. Goodbye said the poem as the crystal tongue of my heart dissolved into mist, became stone, broke into song, mud caking on soles, gray post-rain skies, your name over and over again, my darkness weaving into voice. Though I wish it were yours. You saying hello as you took off your shoes, hello have you eaten, hello crouched in the creaky ferris wheel of our childhood, shadows and yoyos saying down I go and wait for me, pull me up, I’ll be back soon like the night, like a two-letter refrain, like rain leaving yesterday and today’s another day. Goodbye said everyone as time zones flew past windows. Goodbye said the stars as they burned their way to you. Goodbye said I as I waited for them again and again, hello I said again and again and again.