Gardening by Accident

Poetry by | November 15, 2009

for Nanette

I wish I could tell you now
that you were right—
after two years
the pineapple head you had thrown
in the backyard has grown
and in fact, the strange
bromeliad is now the throne
of a lovely little piña,
still magenta in the base,
but already wearing a crown.
It competes with the thorns
and constant flowering
of the pink euphorbia beside it.
Also, the golden bamboo
you planted in the clay pot
to keep it portable
has broken through and proudly
taken root, right beside
the bougainvillea that had threatened
to die when the carpenter
chopped it down
to a stump.
It now bursts madly
into fuchsia revenge.
You have always known
it would all come to this,
didn’t you?
My wilderness of a garden
is profuse with paradoxes
and I grow lush
with a hundred eyes.

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Sapay Koma

Nonfiction by | September 14, 2008

This won 3rd prize, Essay in English, Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature 2008

“I looked at Maria and she was lovely. She was tall…and in the darkened hall the fragrance of her was like a morning when papayas are in bloom.”
–Manuel Arguilla

On our first Valentine as a couple, he gave me a bowl of white nondescript flowers. They had a distinctly sweet but faint scent. I had never been a fan of Valentine’s Day nor of love like a red, red rose; but that day, I became a believer. He told me they were papaya blossoms from his mother’s garden. At that moment, I knew I would one day marry him. We had started dating only three months ago, but I knew I would be Maria to his Leon. Why, he even had a younger brother the same age as Baldo! And even though they didn’t live in Nagrebcan nor owned a carabao, the town of Itogon, Benguet was remote enough for me. I have always enjoyed teaching the Arguilla story for its subversive take on the role that one’s family plays in a marriage; but having been born and raised in Pasay City, I had no idea what papaya blossoms smelled like. I imagined that my new boyfriend had read the story in his Philippine literature class and meant for me to recognize his gift as an allusion. In fact, I imagined we would defy societal norms and prove that love conquers all. Instead of a “theme song,” our relationship had a story to live up to. It was a disaster waiting to happen.

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Poetry by | August 23, 2007

On our sixth anniversary
your parents surprised us
with ice cream and cake.
You cooked my favorite
dish and I brought sweet
red wine. We drank
to each other’s
happiness with a dagger
gleam in the eye. A toast
to a long life, knowing
this would be our last.