Reversed Alphabet of Rain

This entry is part 33 of 47 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2012


Zero buyers till now, for our old home in the middle of the city—
You wrote, too, how in the last monsoon, there was hardly a dry spot:
xerox copies of leaks in every room, even inside the closets.
When we first moved there in ’63, you said there was a frame of
varnished mahogany hanging in the foyer; a portrait,
unexpected— the former president of the Commonwealth,
tints brightening on dull canvas after dusting and
scrubbing lightly with a cloth. Where is it now? In those days,
rain also fell for months on end. The neighborhood below Rock
Quarry always flooded every year. Lining up for relief goods,
people shivered in queue at the barangay health center:
oil, rice, sardines, powdered or evaporated milk for babies.
No one knows when the area first came to be known as The Lagoon.
Mostly “squatters” there— meaning, people setting up homes on
land they did not own; they reasoned, who else would build there,
knowing how flood-prone and inhospitable it was each season?
Just think of that kind of transience, living in a danger zone.
I remember how we used to pull our mattresses into the living room,
huddle in the dark of power outages. Sans batteries, candles threw
garish shapes on walls as our hands put on puppet plays—
fanned-out butterfly wings, a bird, a dog’s barking head.
Evening stretched into the long uncertainty of night.
Do you remember how every sound was magnified?
Candle wax pooled on the floor and hardened.
Bright sweeps of sudden light from trucks on the road;
arcs of memory on a more interior windshield.


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Series Navigation← Rather than the tightening fist,Cocoon →

One Reply to “Reversed Alphabet of Rain”


    All he really must do now is to mine those quarries
    of memories, like bauxite, lining the silent boulders
    inside burrowing caverns. They still glisten these
    cracked stones. Briefly. But he was an innocent lad
    from the lowlands then, he counted them like marbles.

    He saw those stones again on a slow cruise from the city
    where on deck he could see the sea and sky conspire
    to eat the sun, a gem still there. In Les Baux, scouring those
    lime mountains, he shook his trembling finger at the source
    of metals that shaped the monster planes that burned his
    playgrounds with napalm bombs. When he was young.

    —Albert B. Casuga

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