Empty Orchestra

Sometimes when I run my fingers
along the table’s edge, when I
slowly crease a napkin fold
or trace circles on the surface
with a fingernail or the tip
of a coffee spoon— I remember
my mother’s thin soprano practicing
an old kundiman: “Huling Awit,”
Last Song, the pleading supplicant
at the window of unmoved, oblivious
love. And always I wondered why he
never showed his face, never reciprocated
the one-sided serenade in moonlight,
why the woman in the narrative sang
her heart out in such an empty room
that all the sadness in the world
came and gathered like orphans,
like fledglings, at her feet.


In response to Via Negativa Conch Shell.

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