Snippet: roses

It was Valentine’s Day. I was a high school girl, with a mother who grew miniature roses in her small garden. Without permission, I armed myself with a pair of blunt scissors and took flowers from her beloved plants–fresh buds, half-bloomed, fully bloomed in soft pink and peach hues.

At school, I gave one to my best friend. Another for another friend. And another for a seatmate. But the best flowers? I tied them all up in a small, delicate bouquet and nonchalantly handed it to the boy I liked.

It was Valentine’s and I was so, so young. It didn’t need an enormous amount of courage nor anxiety. There were no expectations and malice in my naïve and innocent heart. I just wanted to give him the best roses.

That was more than twelve years ago. I’ve given other things to different boys since then, but never with the same innocence and selflessness.

 

History of Rage

From wailing and flailing
to crying, stomping, and pouting
to biting my brother’s shoulder
to biting my own skin.

Then came my discovery of knives in words:
the delivery of slashes in clumsy sentences
without fully understanding what each word meant,
with full understanding
that each meant to cause hurt
to draw blood and provoke tears.

Eventually, I had to destroy
something
anything:
there were days when my body explodes
combusts
with rage
in rage.

Most of the time, the only thing left to destroy
was myself.

Time taught me that anger
can be refined. I learned
that the body sways, follows
the flowing rage—
arms akimbo
shoulders tensed
head held high
lips closed tightly.
But my tongue rolls, masterfully weaving
words, sharpened with restraint.
My throat trembles, thrilled
for the impending outburst.

I shiver from my own cruelty.

Magulang 1

I

Bumagsak na naman ang iyong katawan.
Napaluhod ka sa pintuan, nakayuko at nakapikit.
Inakay ka ni mama sa upuan. Alam na namin ang gagawin:
ilabas ang blood glucose monitoring device
pulse oximeter
insulin
at syringe. Mag-abang
para sa iba pang kakailanganin:
electric fan
basang tuwalya
tubig
at dalangin.

II

pinanonood ko ang iyong dibdib
taas
baba
taas
baba
‘di alintanang
nabibitin ang sariling paghinga
nang
nagsagpong ang kasalukuyan at ang nakaraan:

musmos akong nagbabantay sa
taas
baba
taas
baba
ng iyong dibdib
habang ika’y umiidlip

sa aking batang pag-iisip
nanahan ang pangamba
na kung hindi maingat at malilingat
hininga mo’y lilisan
at nagsagpong ang kasalukuyan at hinaharap:

dalaga akong nagbabantay sa
taas
baba
taas
baba
ng iyong dibdib
habang ika’y nagpapahinga

dumadalas ang pagdalaw
ng pangamba
na kung hindi maingat at malilingat
hininga mo’y lilisan
at muli
magsasagpong ang kasalukuyan at ang nakaraan