Real

My youngest girl asks for stories—
Real stories tonight, she says, not
made-up
. Like what I did, summers when

I was her age: mornings with the wash billowing
on the line, evenings too humid for clothes
but too buggy for bare skin (smolder and fume

of mosquito coils in terra cotta dishes).
And so I tell her again of sandals kicked off
on the wooden porch, reading Gasoline Alley

and Ripley’s Believe It Or Not in
the Sunday paper, while eating mouth-
puckering green plums dipped in salt

and sugar. Sputter and flare of kerosene
lamps, lizards skittering across living
room walls. Strident cry of a black and

orange rooster tied to the tree in
the yard (its heaped bones decorate
lunch plates the next day). I have

nostalgia for these things, not
necessarily for their pieties.
And she, she wants to smell

the camphor escaping from ancient
wardrobes I pry open; wants to taste,
along with me, the star-shaped indentation

on my father’s pinky finger where the nail
should have been; to imagine the ghost nun’s
shadow beside the bell-pull at school,

summoning souls from the other side.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

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5 Comments


  1. Fabulous, with a dizzying acceleration at the end!

    I love love love the way your poems do that, so often. It’s like when Grace Slick is singing “Someone to Love” and she’s been holding the note for way longer than a person ought to be able to hold a note and then, amazingly, at the end, she *ups* the volume.

    Reply

  2. Ma, This makes me teary eyed. I remember when I also started wanting to hear real stories. She’s so grown up now…. Here’s to siniguelas (if it IS siniguelas you’re talking about), and rooster cries, and summers lovely summers with skittering lizards in kerosene lamp-lit rooms…

    Reply

      1. An ultimate compliment—coming from your anak.
        Nostalgic and she can write. Lovely poem. Bravo, L.
        (I have one grandchild—now 14—who still loves to hear stories about when his father was growing up. I regale him with it, and tell him about mine, too:
        complete with the zarguelas trees low enough to merely vault for their ripened fruit.)

        Reply

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