HER QUIET REPRIMAND
“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