Tomas, understand:

it has become my habit

to make the sign of the cross

when passing by any tower

with a crucifix on top. Who would have thought

that not all cross-bearing edifices

are God’s sanctuaries? Ripples of giggles

swelled in my ears and flowed through my skin,

slowly becoming as pink as a pomelo.

You should have told me about it, Tomas,

just like how you have warned me

of rivers and seas and waterfalls

overflowing in August, breeding ditches

and mutant fishes. I could feel their tentacles

at my feet, creeping up to my knees,

encompassing my thighs. How I dreaded

to tread, let alone swim, in that

ocean of muck, Tomas,

but it is nothing compared to the monsters

you bred: the Cyclops camouflaging in the form

of unblinking nights with the computer,

circles forming under my eyes, and the

Minotaur in your mind-boggling labyrinths

masked as misleading questions designed

to make me lose my path. Tomas,

you subject me to these tortures, only to be redeemed

by fireworks culminating every year,

a burst of green and red and yellow

(and the whole ensemble of rainbows)

lighting up the sky, as faces like mine

watched in awe for four Decembers. I reveled

in their beauty, though a measly consolation

for a year’s unsolicited scourging. But,

if given a chance, Tomas,

to walk between the arch of ancient stones

(said to bring one back to the past)

once again, I will gladly do so:

to return to one’s roots, like a wounded child

searching for his mother’s embrace, or a cub

Clean air hazards

returning to its home, its first prey

dangling between its tiny, bloodied fangs.

Myla Jasmine U. Bantog


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.