Posted by: oneinamillionrose | July 4, 2006

Share: a poem by Gracia Perdiguerra, isang kaibigang makata


Visiting the Dead

Gracia Perdiguerra, 042406



Midday. Lerma is an ellipsis; a short distance to renew a license

expired for months. An invitation to tour the rat hole. An attempt

to walk around: the way around. The taxi driver knows the way to

Malacanan. Arlegui, near TIP, a little left and a little right, is

never right. Everybody poses a direction. Pointing endlessly at a

narrow strip, I lose my way as I come near it.



Lerma shows the way to your heart, Manila. For years, I forget you.

You are as dead as your ancestors. Despicable. Your smell reminds me

of the dead; it penetrates every inch of my body. I want to vomit. I

thought I flushed you down the gutter of Pandacan; washed the stench

in San Andres; scrubbed that I bleed and none of Luneta’s lights

ever trace the kiss. Sordid. Don’t you touch my hand when I walk

past Sta. Ana Bridge, or, caress me from friction, the trolleys in

Sta. Mesa. No. Don’t remind me how you almost raped me while I

escaped your rusty train.



I heaved. Mendiola. It’s always the same. I have to find other

alleys just to get to you. I have to squirt through the traffic,

bodies, metals, teargas—smoke, sweat, stone. But, you’ll push me

away, far from Malacanang. I’d run back to UE, for comfort. And

you’d follow me there; lash me. The island’s still there, my feet

bore the dent. There it ran and ran till I found a home at Isetann.

It’s cool there. I’ll change my shirt, wash up, and pretend, I was

never part of your drama. Mendiola, you are such a telenovela.



Wobbly knees take the jeepney. Board the next cab at the foot of the

bridge. Cringed. I see my body decomposing, bloated, and floating at

the river. Why did you frame my body? Hanging, it changes as the

color of the night. I have to leave. But, I have to see you. 5




SM replaces Isetann. I see you walking. I hear you talking. I feel

the warm evening inside the air-conditioned mall. Bodies. Souls.

Moving. Here. There. Past you. Past me. Who are we running away

from? I touch you, through you, and wondered. Am I or are you dead?



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