Poetry / July 2018 (Issue 40: Writing the Philippines)

Chemical/Physical Change

by Jessrel Escaran Gilbuena


I remember: I was coloring a pencil sketch of a hill, beach and the water in between these two. It revealed I was color blind after my sister's question: Why's the sea violet? I heard the sea is blue and I had the intention. After which I decided to trust the labels on the crayon. I supposed each color has relatives. Each one comes with shades. Later on, I started to familiarize them (as they say, the only cure).

We live in an island where tourism is a major livelihood: resorts, white shore. Once, you showed me a drawing. Already colored. I knew it has a hill, or an islet maybe. A shore—bright—and there should be the sea in between—blue (trusting you were unlike me). But I spotted bold black line just between the sea and shore, I was sure of it. I thought it was an extended dark bench, perhaps a mistake. You told me, it's part of the sea.

Beach resort

I took a walk on the beach and found myself approaching an evidence of attempt—a concrete seawall overlapping the shore, fretting the sand, parallel to a vacant lot which was fenced with barbed wire that seemed to drop in rust. The sea and time might have hated attempts. They must have known only certainty. I got into the exact place, I couldn't help but to step in to the broken pieces of concrete.


I ruminated that an island is an introvert. But a smirk stables, recalling its people as opposite: no one is stranger, even a stranger himself soon loses reticence.

Years, I was gone yet got my way back home. Vacant lots were blank, where are the children? This time, people just pass through each other texting. Sending messages to the absents. I asked my mother the name of the little girl with cleft palate at Nang Lydia's house. Focus on the TV screen, she spoke no awareness. I wanted out of the city that knows no idea of neighbour. I guess, I had come to a wrong place.
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