Grace R. Monte De Ramos Oct 10, 2008 16:03:06 GMT 2
Post by thepoetslizard on Oct 10, 2008 16:03:06 GMT 2
Grace R. Monte de Ramos
Bio[/b] at Panitikan Website
I am a mother of sons.
Two joined the army when they were young;
There was not enough money for school,
They had no skills for jobs in foundries
And factories, and it was easy to sign up
And learn how to handle a gun.
I am a mother of sons, two sons
And one, the youngest, now gone.
In his youth he was taken
By men whose names I never will learn.
I only know they were soldiers, like my sons,
Cradling fearsome guns.
He was a fine young man. I took care of him
For seventeen years and they took him away
And now I am searching for his bones.
I will never learn their names.
Alone I try to imagine the scene: were their faces
Bearded or clean-shaven?
Perhaps their bodies were robust.
Did they wear uniforms the color of shrivelled
Sampaguita or fresh horseshit?
How pointed the bullets from their guns?
My soldier sons come home
When life in the barracks is still.
I hide their brother’s picture;
It makes them cry and remember.
Perhaps they, too (God forbid it),
Have given other mothers sorrow.
Perhaps my son had to pay for what they borrowed.
I cannot cry, though I am told
It is better to cry and let go.
Where is my son’s body for me to bury?
I only wear my grief in the lines
Of my face, my sunken cheeks.
Silent, I mourn a woman’s
Bitter lot: to give birth to men
Who kill and are killed.
Versus: Philippine Protest Poetry 1983-1986, edited by Alfredo Navarro Salanga and Esther M. Pacheco (Seattle and Manila: University of Washington Press and Ateneo de Manila University Press, 1986).
In Greece the potatoes are yummy.
They sit well in the tummy
And so I’m beginning to run
To fat, just sitting on my buns,
Sitting in the Aegean sun.
I should be writing a poem, an ode
To Rimbaud who, last I saw,
Was cooling his brow with a beer
(Or should I say brew), somewhere
In Asia. In Greece the men are
Graceless gods, prone to pinching.
Wish it were you.
"My Mother’s Face"
In her ancient age, Mama’s face
is acting strange.
Morning wind in the garden whips
her wrinkles into secret routes, the waves
coursing, hidden, underneath
her roughened skin. When she bends
to pluck the triple-layered sampaguita
for its heady scent, she feels her nose
has crested—just a bit—and her cheek
receives the petals’ satiny caress instead.
Turning to speak
to “dancing ladies” rooted to a dying limb,
my mother finds it is her smile
that has performed a pirouette.
In truth her landscape is askew, struck
unforewarned by seismic forces.
One of Mama’s ears has slipped
and she has lost her perfect equipoise.
The plants receive unequal shares of water
and garbled conversation. Across the garden
alarm bells ring. Her youngest grandson,
small and like a man ignorant
of women’s masks and disguises,
declares my mother a likely candidate
for cosmetic intervention.
“She needs a facelift,” he intones.
“She has been so old so long,
she deserves to be a child again.”
The therapist kneads Mama’s palsied face,
her fingers willing straying lines
back to their accustomed places.
It takes three weeks before we see
our own familiar crone.
Gratitude blooms like wild roses
in our nursery of weeds. We take
our mother back, and drive home carefully
as if, indeed, she were a newborn babe.
In her garden the orchids sway,
jasmine and gardenia scent the air,
and life as Mama knows
and lives it, begins again,
on this her eighty-fifth year.
Grace R. Monte de Ramos is a freelance editor. She has lived in Manila for over 20 years. Her mother is now 90 years old.
Asia and Pacific Writers Network