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Passing through a mountain where the paths wove

I saw a crow on the side of the road

Pick up a plastic bag and fly away.

I have seen a lot today.

 

The world around is glistening green

Some fog is curling in the air.

If I had only the time to spare

I’d stay. I’d fill my soul to its brim.

 

Note: This one is kind of old. I wrote this in March on a trip to my Dad’s hometown.

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The only scary thing about going to a wake

Is seeing the person

Under the glass

Because it makes his death a reality.

 

It cements the fact that he will never open his eyes again

Reinforcing the truth that he is permanently, hopelessly gone.

Looking inside a person’s mind

Is like peering into a kaleidoscope

With the thoughts forming patterns

No one else can make sense of,

Not at first.

 

On closer examination

You’ll see how each shape and each color is infused with meaning.

You’ll see how there is reason behind

Every rotation of the tube and the movement of shapes that follow.

 

If you’re lucky

You’ll see the true form of the things reflected in those mirrors

And then you will learn to appreciate

The beauty of another being’s existence.

I have gotten used to letting go of people

Again and again.

 

They stay inside my heart for awhile

But most of them are passersby.

 

I know they will leave inevitably

So I always say my goodbyes quietly

even before they make up their minds

even before they pack up and go.

 

When they’re gone

I try not to search the gaps

and hollow spaces they once occupied

I try not to feel the small indentations

caused by every word

and every touch

 

But the mind is a masochist–

It goes back again and again.

It keeps probing

Unable to resist asking

the whys

and the what ifs

that will never be answered.

Passing through a small provincial town by bus

I spy a head sticking out of a dirty canal.

 

It’s a woman with black hair past her shoulders

And a floral pattern on her blouse.

She’s crouched down in the filth with her arms around herself

Underneath the merciless rays of the noontime sun.

 

I suddenly think of the recent news

About people dying from heat stroke.

 

I can’t get her image out of my mind.

What happened to her?

What is she doing there?

 

I wonder if she’s one of the many taong grasa,

Driven to insanity by hunger or poverty

Or some other unfortunate circumstance.

The way to cry

Quietly

Undetected

Is not easy.

 

You must control your breathing.

 

You must know when to do a large intake of air, soundless

To keep yourself from sobbing.

 

Do it slowly to keep your lips from shaking.

 

Hold it all back.

Blink your tears away.

Use every ounce of energy you have.

 

When you do

 

You will feel the shudders travel from your shoulders to your knees.

You will feel your throat burn as you swallow over and over.

It will burn so much, you won’t be able to breathe.

I was dissected within minutes

By all your questions.

You figured me out so easily.

I wonder how you were able to see me so clearly.

 

I who hate myself and fear everything

With all my walls and locks and secrets

I who cannot define

My dreams, my path, my life, myself.

 

I didn’t know the right questions to ask

But you did.

 

Here I sit with you

With my tear-stained cheeks

And the snot running from my nose.

 

I am horrified and disgusted with myself

But you’re kind enough to tell me

That I am still beautiful.

We walk, following the dead through narrow streets that could barely fit a car.  It is a procession, a solemn flash mob invading the small country roads.  People look at us as we pass by.

We continue along a small path that leads into the town cemetery.  Stone and gravel are crushed repeatedly under the shoes of almost a hundred mourners.  

In November, this same path must be covered with drops of candle wax, flower petals, and a mix of trash and dirt.

There are tall trees heavy with green mangoes.  I get a sudden thought that they must be well-nurtured by the dead.

They finally lay his casket down inside the chapel.  Sounds of weeping fill my ears, but I hear none from his wife.  She is not allowed to cry.

Outside, someone whimpers softly like a dog.  The wind carries the sound along with those of shovels scraping the ground, mixing cement.  When the cement has covered everything, the whimpering turns into howling.

A real dog comes along to sniff at our feet.

The sky is bright blue with barely a cloud in sight when they let white balloons fly into the air.  People start clapping.  

I hear someone tell a child, “look,” pointing up to the balloons with his lips.  ”Say goodbye to grandfather.”