Manolita Farolan Oct 10, 2008 16:00:53 GMT 2
Post by thepoetslizard on Oct 10, 2008 16:00:53 GMT 2
Manolita Farolan writes poems on home as the source of imagination and alienation, and on the delicate balance of being both Asian and European.
She has led a life rich in drama and conflict, and her writing draws on these experiences and her day job as a psychotherapist.
In Geneva, Switzerland, Manolita sneaks time away from her patients, her two grown sons, her husband, and her devoted cat, to sit at her computer each morning and stare at the blank screen.
My nanas, soft bosoms drooping in their homely black,
stringy grey hair knotted at nape of neck,
they beckon with that loose downward flap,
Something amiss in my left breast,
an echography leaves a cloud of doubt.
The radiologist, hairy chest bursting
out of his lab coat, fiddles with the computer,
coats a grey-colored probe with slime,
promenades it on my breast, insisting,
as if he wanted to rub something out.
See that? I twist my head,
squint at the screen. All I see
is a denser cloud in a sea
that floats as he prods.
His eyes meet mine.
I think we should do it.
A punction? That small voice,
buying time, is mine.
How to say no
when you’re held hostage on a bed,
undressed to the waist,
arms above your head.
The nurse mentioned it in passing,
as if everyone knew what a punction was.
Again my nanas, standing on the far side
of a river, cry, Hija, halika na!
and shield their eyes against the glare.
Too fast for me, his little spiel
This will thrust a hollow needle…
6 millimeters…into your breast.
What really sinks in is this:
It’ll shave off a sliver
picture a carrot grater.
Get used to the noise, he warns
gun in hand aimed at the ceiling
shock of metal recoiling against metal
it sits nicely in his hand,
weight and heft and long green muzzle.
I pinch my forearm—to get my mind off
the cold muzzle, the long needle
Since you’re so brave I’ll do a couple more
Does this mean I might have...?
the C-word floats, dense cloud darkening,
my aunties call gaily Hija!
He leans forward, rests a hand
on either side of me. I’m five again
and like daddy, he is going to explain
something very important,
earnest face just inches from mine,
in words he thinks even I might understand.
I think we’ll find nothing.
Then, as he straightens up,
For now at least.
My crestfallen nanas fade out,
as if on film.
I won’t be joining them just yet.
No one can sound the depths
For the distress of manatees
Better than one more damaged than most.
Manatees? He asks, not following.
You know—lumbering, benign.
Propellers, she adds, monofilament line.
You mean you, damaged?
One could say, An amputee.
Nicer metaphors exist.
Amputees don’t let you see
the phantom limb that throbs
as the foehn wind blows, the storm breaks.
When the manatee comes forth from
murky waters with its mangled limbs,
the amputee greets it gravely, like nobility.
Together they dream of water, of drifting
weightless above undulating beds of sea grass
how sudden was the chopping of the blade.
Then comes the day when the manatees
return, should they return, to play like dolphins
in sunlit shallows, clicking their messages.
"This Other Country"
To get to our house, drive along a dirt road
by a t-shirt factory, empty lots bordered
with razor grass. Enter the sala with its rattan furniture
covered in bright yellow fabric with big blue leaves,
the stand-up piano, the hi-fi from America.
A glass-cased samurai stands guard
at the foot of the stairs. On the landing
see yourself in the tall gilt mirror,
baroque survivor of the glory years
in Hawaii before your birth.
Strains of opera--half-sung, half-hummed—
reach your ears as you climb the stairs,
Junior always does this when he sketches.
At the top, left for the girls,
right for the guys. Push the screen door
into male terrain—Benny's room, Daddy's,
and veering left, a room smack in the middle,
with doors to male and female,
impossible bridge beween the two,
Aladdin’s cave. Sheet music, sketchpads,
tubes of paint helter-skelter, thin sticks of charcoal,
pencils one must not sharpen, but carve.
Puccini, Verdi, and Rossini wrestle for space
with Canson Arches, Winsor and Newton.
He hums ‘Nessun Dorma,’ bent over,
sketching the latest—carabao.
It’s been skulls for weeks now—dogs’, cats’,
even a monitor lizard’s, as if he had to
capture the essence of death before
he hurled himself to meet it, face to face.
You know the aria, Junior sang it for you
one afternoon, two of you, side by side
on the piano seat. Manic, he played the score,
sketched the scenes, sang the arias—
orchestra, conductor, entire cast of singers
the space of an afternoon, for an audience of one.
The noble suitor whispers his name
to the Princess Turandot,
hoping love will save him.
From the glow on his face you could tell
this was his life, this was his passion,
but even at eight you knew
he was an alien in this other country.