Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts

Vol. VII, No. 9      April 1- 7, 2007      Quezon City, Philippines

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POETRY

Two Visits
(For Bobbie Malay)

 

BY SARAH RAYMUNDO

Posted by Bulatlat


Pinstripe Pastel. That would have been his wife
if she were a theme
for a mobile phone's interface.
"Funny thought," the visitor tells herself
as if to dissimulate
the abyss of discomfort
involved in jail visits to strangers.

 

He was no stranger after all.
People know him by his fist
(usually clenched for photo-ops and for life).
Is he, like the old folks in their hometown,
wearing cheap pomade?
She wasn't suppose to ask,
not when he is wearing a blue-collared shirt
neatly embroidered with a sign:
BAYAN MUNA.

 

He had a better topic:
"Tell her about our youngest."
And she,
with a lilt that is unmistakably hers,
who thinks that her past sixties
should be hers and not her students',
could not but continue to speak
in that   cadence,
obligingly did.

 

She was of the Underground while he
was, as he is now, a legal personality.
While some local actor was fast becoming a household name,
Hers was almost forbidden in their household.
She left motherhood for a cause
and History has yet to confirm this suspicion.

 

The kids turned out well, anyhow.
But before they did
the youngest came
to visit her
with the most urgent question:

My teacher, she would ask me about you.
Tell her I'm in the province.
By now, the child has grown impatient.
It's not that. She wants your name.
What is your name, Nanay?

 

She tore a piece of paper from the edge
of a daily, wrote her answer and
handed it to the little one.

 

He stared at the characters for eternity,
(that was how she calculated time)
folded the piece neatly and inserted it
in the side pocket of his walking shorts.
He walks out of prison bouncing.
He is now into the family secret.

 

Telling this burns her still.
She thought this, all of this
lives in the before of her life.* 

 

Her image is as soft as pinstripe pastel,
it begs the visitor to rake her fingers through
like a comb.**

 

March 26, 2007

 

Posted by Bulatlat

 

========================

*after Janna Harris' 1859:Galena, Illinois: "This, all of this,/lives in the Before of my life." In The Dust of Everyday Life:An Epic Poem of the Pacific Northwest, 1997:48. Seattle: Sasquatch Books. 


**after Book Four Ink: Thomas and Helen Hodgson (Olympia, Washington, State Capital, Swantwon Lane, 1890-1891: "...From/a few bushels of wheat/(saved by settlers who/ate rootbread) have sprung/twice as many hectares/of weaving green so/soft a color it begs you/to rake your fingers through/like a comb. " In Joanna Harris' The Dust of Everyday Life:An Epic Poem of the Pacific Northwest, 1997:123. Seattle: Sasquatch Books). 

 

 

Editorís Note: Sarah Raymundo who is an assistant professor of sociology in UP Diliman and General Secretary of the Congress of Teachers/Educators for Nationalism and Democracy (CONTEND) visited Satur Ocampo at the Manila Police District last March 25. Saturís wife Bobbie Malay, former professor of journalism at UP Diliman, was with him.

  

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