Photo by Jongjong Espanto, San Fernando City, La Union, Philippines
(For My Hometown, San Fernando)
"La muerte no llega con la vejez, sino con el olvido."---Gabriel Garcia Marquez*
How much do I remember of your bay?
What sunsets have faded in my mind?
I scour a gray horizon, and I see gloom.
Yet I am not ready to surrender my hold
on those sundowns I must have hoarded
as time for me to catch you from a perch,
a hillock choked by blazing arbol de fuego,
lining the road down like flamenco dancers
as you feigned fear of descent and I, your
emboldened caballero, held you tightly,
surely, wherever I could snuggle close
to smell the whiff of dried sweat on you.
We will climb that hill again, won’t we?
There is a misplaced pagoda up there now,
a lookout we would have claimed our nook
When you were but a ticklish sweetheart
of a flirt, and I a wild-eyed swain waiting
for some summer breeze to blow your skirt
off your glistening legs moistened by heat
that became your lame excuse to giggle
as you shook my hands off your bare back:
O, they are sticky, you protested coyly then,
but when was the last time we laughed like
innocent lovers hiding from vile mongers
fearful that we could not wrap each other
into trembling arms as we rolled on grass
under the ancient acacia guarding the hill?
I remember. I remember. How could we
have ignored the fury within us? A brave
heart will not forget, will it? Would it?
Here I am, back on the hill, looking at the bay,
answering my own murmured questions. You
would not have remembered anything, anyway.
---Albert B. Casuga
*Death does not arrive with old age, but with oblivion.