Thursday, January 23, 2014



“But what have I, but what have I, my friend,/ To give you, what can you receive from me?/ Only the friendship and the sympathy/ Of one about to reach her journey’s end.”

---T. S. Eliot, “Portrait of a Lady”


How often does she get up nights

looking for the leftover dried fish?

She wakes up hungry these days,

roused by carousing cats, mating

with puling sounds she snickers

about when her knees do not hurt.


Dawn cracks by the time she rests

her face on the laced tabled cloth

her ilustrado* family had given

her as a wedding gift, embroidered

by her abuela: the way to a man’s

heart is through his stomach.


Or some such bromide she must

have lived by, however often she

promised to leave the philanderer

on her now cold bed till he freezes

over, but he went on to die ahead

in a seedy motel locked ardently

in the armpit of a snoring querida.


With grand aplomb, she buried him

decently, and her neighbours said:

Like a lady, she stood by her man.


She wakes up nights now looking

for a misplaced cellphone, its use

scarcely learned, no, not mastered,

but handy anyway when she calls

her next-of-kin across-god-knows

what-oceans asking for his where

abouts,he is not home yet’, and she

feels like eating some hot dimsum

from that dark Ka-Yang panciteria

where families gather on Sundays.


---Albert B. Casuga


*ilustrado -- well-educated


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