Mother said one must get rid of luggage as soon as possible.

How I should, for example, learn to ride the bicycle again,

to balance weight on two flimsy rubber wheels.

Weight that took me 12 years to get rid of. Weight that was

ice cream/chocolate cake/ bowls of sinigang na baboy sagging down my arms,

dragging down my thighs, sucking my navel in like a deep hell hole.

I was on my way to Baguio two weeks ago and she packed my whole cabinet.

Mother, did you still want me to come home? Freshly ironed clothes smelling

of Downy™ and folded flat against each other, a little like memory. Remember

to take your cold medicine, vitamin C, etc, wouldn’t want you catching SARS.

Or was that someone else taking, blending in with mother, folded flat against

what haunts from home and what haunts from elsewhere far off, remember…

Strained Attempt to Relate to Strangeness. Everything being new in Baguio,

I resorted to cigarettes, the way babies resort to rubber nipples when mother

is not around. I attempted to form an alliance with the pine trees, you’re stripped

naked, how do you bare with the fog? Naked tree answered how a simple conversation

with coldness could warm her up. But fog is liquid transformed into gas, how else do I

let memory float from the mouth? Burn grass rolled in paper, clipped between lips, jutting

out: stranger still how the clothes get heavier once out of Baguio. They say that SARS

spreads through droplets of common cold, sweat and saliva. Mornings were a sneeze


away from one another; afternoons, a surge of hot air; and if I want to scare

my lover away, I can tell him how we did body shots there. Liquid seeping

into my dirty clothes refolded in my duffel. Zipper throwing up. Must be a hang over.

A line missing from my forced sestet above. I suppose it was a sort of letting go.

Mother said one must get rid of luggage as soon as possible. Soon, nothing

will be left of this poem, if this is a poem. Because once one unpacks,

one has to wash dirty clothes, stale on the bedroom floor.

Mother once found it hard to teach heavy clothes

how to balance weight on a bicycle.

One day she let them fall.


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