WAS BROWSING through college files I burned into CDs when I found drafts of poems I intended to submit to Heights but did not. I always kept a pocket notebook with me during those days, I remember, upon which I scribbled my own verses whenever inspiration struck. I selected these four, and typed them into the format required by the college literary publication.
I couldn’t believe I wrote these drafts after reading them tonight. And I couldn’t help but cry. I’ve gained so much and lost so much. I’ve changed. I know my present self couldn’t have written these lines, mere attempts at poetry though they were. There is something fiery and wide-eyed and adamant in them that burst forth from the free flow.
Why I did not submit them, I do not remember. Nor do I recall how I was able to write them. But reading them reminded me that the unique series of choices that I and I alone have made spelled the difference between who I was six years ago and who I am now. And that spurs hope, because the same should spell the difference between who I am now and who I will be.
Side by side
Our feet fall upon the dusty path.
In this garden we walk
With our backs towards the sun
Chasing our shadows— 5
Shadows weaved by our hands.
Bushes near our feet, little flowers on the green,
Our eyes never meet.
But we still walk,
And our feet fall upon the path of dust 10
The wind is cool. The garden wall
Sends the breeze back
To our faces.
Faint odor of crushed leaves
Brings our shadows to unweave, 15
And you leave.
And I stay
Where our feet last fell together—late time of day.
Where a shade still falls on our dusty path,
All of my hopes lay. 20
Kangkong sa Kangkungan
Maputik ang daan tungo sa kangkungan
Kung saan ang isang baranggay ng mga kangkong—
Sa ilalim ng nakapapasong araw
At di alintana ang putik 5
Kung saan ugat nila’y nakabaon
Kaya naman mahirap hugutin, at kapag pinilit,
Ang tangkay ay mababali.
At ang kangkong ay 10
Madalang ang mga dahong nananatiling nakatiklop
Sa bibihirang ambon ng biyaya,
Kaya ang mga dahon ng mga kangkong sa kangkungan
Ay laging nakaladlad, bukas-palad, 15
Na parang bungkos ng mga kamay ng mga batang tumatawag:
“Ate, penging kendi!”
Walang gulugod ang mga kangkong.
Ang tanging mayro’n sila ay
Makunat na balat at matigas na tangkay 20
At gumugulang sa sobrang ulan.
Mangarap ang mga kangkong.
Masakit mang isipin, 25
Habang-buhay nilang hindi mararating ang magandang parang.
Sadya bang ganito—
Na kapag sumibol ka sa putik,
Hindi ka na makaaalis;
Na kapag nabulok ang tangkay ng kangkong, 30
Kung saan ito sumuloy,
Doon na rin mababaon?
Sa pagdaan ng oras unti-unting natitigang ang putik
Dahil sa nakapapasong araw,
Ngunit patuloy sa pagdami ang mga kangkong— 35
Nabubuhay pa sila, ngunit ito ay kanila nang
At tanging sila lang
Ang makababatid ng halaga 40
Ng buhay sa putik at sa ulan.
To a Friend
One glance can tell nothing of her elegance.
Her handsome face outshines the rest
But you have to take more
Than a glance
To realize this— 5
And many more to have a feel of
The magnetism that either pulls you
Or pushes you away from her.
She has a very distinct
But her meekness overshadows
The strength of her kind character
Which radiates from that timid
That had me thinking how her beauty 15
Could evade many eyes, and
How she contains
That anxious power inside,
Despite her need of it
To guard herself from 20
Conversing with her, with
Words or without,
Is wonderment and joy, plus some
Soul-tickling humor; 25
She gives meaning to life, space and time
As she graciously spills her thoughts to
Fulfill your want or need
—whichever, you’ll find yourself
In awe of her overwhelming honesty and openness— 30
And you wonder at the talent of sharing
A charming person could possess, such
A person who philosophy could not define
One glance can tell nothing of her humble elegance, 35
And I have found out that no matter
How many glances I take, she is always
Basked in a modest light,
Endearingly selfless, caring
And genuine— 40
I thank God for letting us meet.
Having you as my friend is my idea of happiness,
And I think He approves of it.
Sa tilamsik ng laway ng ina kong sobrang mag-alala;
Sa langis ng sarili kong pawis kapag paalis na ang umaga;
Sa tunog ng bel na nagsasabing, “Late ka na!”;
Sa nakalatag na mga kwadernong hindi ko mahanap ang halaga. 5
Sa burger at French fries na walang sustansya;
Sa paulit-ulit na kanta ni Nina;
Sa pagmumuni ng sasabihin sa aking kasama;
Sa sobrang kagalakan ng iba. 10
Sa walang katapusang sinasabi sa balita;
Sa mainit pa raw na kontrobersya;
Sa di malunasang kahirapan ng aking bansa.
Ayokong magisa 15
Sa pag-iisip ng tulang ipapasa.
Ayoko nang magisa sa problema.
Hayaan n’yo naman akong