Poetry / February 2010 (Issue 10)


by Mariejoy San Buenaventura

My mother had a childhood full of boat rides.
I can hear her and her sisters, 
giggling in ripples like the water in which they dangled hands,
gasping at the nip of curious fish,
licking the spray of brine off their lips.

Their grandfather, a gray-eyed Spaniard,
rowed to his island farm
of cassava, fat-leafed taro, 
and coconut trees, 
trunks single-minded as bell towers,
shells humming a low percussion 
when tied to the shoulders, hips and knees of dancing men
and struck in rhythm.

Play among cassava seedlings.
Drink spring water from a bamboo pole, 
freshness seeping into bones overheated in the Philippine air.

Evening, loud soporific rattling of crickets.
They slept in a row on a straw mat,
feeling wind sigh through slats of the wooden floor.
He rocked in a chair on the porch,
smoking a fragrant pipe.

A grandfather of skillful hands.
The fingers were probably long, nails grimy,
knuckles calloused, back scarred, 
palms beautifully abrasive as sandpaper,
making ladles out of coconut shells,
or carving flowers on a machete sheath.


My father at work, 
his hands skillful
without the cure of wood or loam.

A cold hotel,
but his voice warms on a "golden oldie",
hands cavorting over piano keys,
head bopping to improvisation,
pulsing music from heart to fingers to stringed ivory.

Where does he go
when he leaves that darkened lounge
in the passage of a song?
Down a wide highway, singing a city to life?
The top of a skyscraper, wooing stars?

Persistent through late hours, cigarette fumes, 
nights of jaded crowds.
The mind works, 
the soul plays,
making music,
or carving flowers on a machete sheath.

Website © Cha: An Asian Literary Journal 2007-2018
ISSN 1999-5032
All poems, stories and other contributions copyright to their respective authors unless otherwise noted.