Memory of

By | 15 February 2023

my father, his back
I would in childhood
vaporub, and try to knead
the knots he spent
his day jeepney driving,
swollen exponentially by his
passengers who would tap
him on the shoulder to hand
over their loose coins, there
where for days I rode shotgun
to conductor for him.
Certainly do I remember
the unergonomic spaces
in which my father almost
24/7 boarded people
onto the first entrance
step, the pathway narrow
and adjacent squeak rusty
steel bars to flail,
backrests used to tender,
unlucky carapace,
how unanthropomorphic
each anthropometric
measurement, why still we’re
designed the lengths
we’re nevertheless willing
to go to. The macho
martyrdom of suffering, our
own crucifix pointed at
trajectories of foreseeable futures
where beckons the light we
for each other make way after,
though all that light is
Third World. Came the overseas
years my father dyed
textiles in Korea, big rotary
printing machines guzzling,
resounding his hunger, or
how at least he made
do with it, while in China,
where he would later be
relocated, the pebbles to
manufacture for production
cemented the market,
balikbayan boxes fat
with sweets and sweat, more
verdant now the grass
though no longer uprooted
from organic soil.
Meanwhile in the Philippines
I live with my sister, who
during graveyard shifts
worships Americans twelve
different time zones away
from earth, the world
within that earth, using
the same Americanized
accent to prove her English,
she’s ashamed, is not broken,
using rapport to prove
that in order to belong,
give it time, belong before
the actual feeling of
belongingness, gullibility:
my father in abroad,
my sister in another call,
the men whose beauty
I keep coming back to
for my shame to see
the whole source of.
When did memory
become the elsewhere
we want immediate,
and elsewhere the place we’re
wont to linger, and
Do you have to, do you have
to, do you have to let it
linger? ask The Cranberries.
I don’t answer and instead
sing along, my diction pseudo-
American, my voice rendered
into song, the song through which
to lip-sync all prayers
home, where my father is other-
wise unalienable, and
where my sister, not her customer
service calls, is always
right, the last veneer of her
empathy and his sinew
I’m given to both coolness
and expertise for which
they will be paid, policy-wise,
dollar-wise, which means
higher peso-value converted,
remitted to my name,
above which is where finally
I plunk my hands down,
I sign the implied promise,
my family to bliss.

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