When I was still a small boy, my Lolo would let me accompany him whenever he took our horse for a bath down the river. This constituted mostly of waking up every four o'clock in the morning when the sky is still submerged in deep black and littered with stars. Growing up as a kid in a small barrio, I got used to the crackling of the early morning chickens, my Lola singing an old visayan church hymn while preparing breakfast and the early morning smell of damp earth and grasses wet with morning dew. It was then during these trips with my Lolo, that I saw my first shooting star. And with all the innocence and childishness that a kid could muster, I closed my eyes and wished that I could become a superhero like Superman. Hoping against hope that maybe that star, that one piece of rogue celestial rock too unfortunate enough to reach earth might grant me my wish and let me fly, have super strength or an x-ray or heat vision. I don’t know if Lolo noticed, maybe he did, or maybe he did not. Mornings with him were like this, dreamy, unhurried, and simple. While he bathes our horse down the river, I would look at him from the banks or play by the river’s shallow parts. We would come home after that, just on time for early morning breakfasts that Lola would prepare. Life was much more simpler back then. Me and my cousins shared mornings like these, quite and simple.
As days bled into months and months into years. As people grew older and wither. As we all grew up to the individuals that we would become. Life took us and it took us mercilessly, without warning nor consent. As it distracted us with growing up and with our individual lives. We forgot the kids that we once were and the people whom we shared it with, our grandparents. Death came for them and it came in our absence. We failed to notice that they have become fragile and easily broken. They saw us grow up but we never saw them grow old. You see, the painful truth about nostalgia is that it allows you to remember things of the past and betrays you to the even more painful realization of the things that you missed and took for granted and of the memories that you could’ve created with people, especially of those that matter.
Life happens and it happens fast, today’s moments become tomorrow’s memories and then, without even knowing it, without caution nor doubt, it culminates into a fateful ending like shooting stars dissipating into thin air, against the black of the night. But like shooting stars we also come to appreciate its beauty despite its imperfections and realities, no matter how short lived it may be. And as fleeting as it could be we have to live in the moment and make memories with people that truly matter. Memories that you’ll be thankful for one day.
And so despite the regrets and the forsaken moments, I am truly thankful for early morning horseback rides and breakfasts, and for late night stories and lullabies, for these things, these small, finite and seemingly unimportant moments that litter our lives, are the invincible ties that bind us, even beyond death.
one day i dream of laying under a bright starry sky with you, submerging ourselves in the warmth of a blanket as our fingers intertwine with one another, thinking of nothing but the love we have for one another.
A SAFE PLACE IN THE WOODS: where the girl goes to hide, where she buried the bones of every fawn her father made her hunt down and kill, the sun warring against the moon, launching shadows like grenades, the charred remnants of bloodied popsicle sticks and diamond-studded teeth, a wolf alone on a cliff, watching, praying; abandoning all hope.
A CIGARETTE LEFT TO DIE OUT: it’s not fairy dust on the window sill, it’s ash, the burglar comes in through the back door, he leaves his knife behind, midnight marches in, the family sleeps; unheeding, like the father doesn’t rely on alcohol more than his own children, like the mother isn’t bruised, like their son isn’t a grave site, even the wind ducks out of this cold, desert storm of a house.
THE YEAR OF THE SNAKE: reading poems about the virgin queen, holding hands in the dark because sometimes even skin singes like fire, because sometimes even castles cry, and it’s back again; slithering up the staircase like the devil’s messenger, running calloused palms where the doctor warned her not to touch, every flower in my book is a ball dance pulverized beneath a falling chandelier.
SEPTEMBER FORMS A WHITE OPAL: the blue boy, only seen through the sharpest of telescopes, half-asleep in a sky of gentle violence, submerged in reverie, this is where every broken dream begins, this is how all their stories end; the kids who swore they could conquer the world if only they found their spark before it was sucked by lightning.
THE WINTER OF ANGELS: the night the air around our town tasted like vanilla, how the river rapids claimed their victims, a feast of flesh and ice, I still remember the avalanches in his eyes, the boy who came up to me and said, “come, rage against the stars with me.”
FLAT-LINE: do they still write songs about lonely people? the ones who’ve only seen love in sepia photographs and Marilyn Monroe movies, do they still speak their own names like a curse? I hope they don’t, they deserve better than wounds drowned in salt and late nights like gun shots bleeding out on the carpet.