The Children Remember The Anniversary Of Our Loves

(For Leah, Ayi, Camille & Nasudi Francine)

The children remember

the 20th anniversary

of our loves multiplied.

There is algebra here,

the abstraction of emotions

going linear & then circuitous,

curving beyond

the boundaries of blase despair

& desires.

It is our 20th, past many

years after we buried

a leader coming home

from self-exile, his widow in tow,

the bubby daughter delivering

a dramatized eulogy of her father's

opposition to that which does not matter

to loving a land,

to giving up your life for a people

as grateful as the cold waters of seas

sacred and all-giving

in these tortured and tormented islands.

The purging waters are there,

have always been there,

surrounding us and reminding us

of our intractable solitudes

to wash away the impurities

of sacrificing less for

the purpose of a nation of lies & liars,

the purpose perhaps destined or denied.

A year after we married ourselves,

just the two of us, with our mutual cares

for our witness, our covenant sealed

by the streets becoming hungrier

& angrier as the months went by.

That was the year preluding a first

people power of self-redemption.

It was the postlude to producing paradise,

a grandiose one as befitted

a people long deprived.

The hunger was more

because we were starting life anew,

because we were starting a new life

from the old ones, investing on our

memory of new society money

that was never in our hands

but in the pockets of robbers

& those who we voted to bleed us dry.

The anger was more for allowing

ourselves to forget to grieve for our

incalculable loss of lives & laughters

as we saw the dissenters to the dictator

& his agents inaugurate a salvaging spree,

one at a time initially,

two at a time gradually,


the eventual massacre

of the dissenters' dreams

of the best breakfast of dried fish,

fried rice with a generous sprinkling

of garlic to ward off the evil in the thought

of meals & many more lives crucified in the sun,

or in the palate that savors & remembers

the truth of a hemorrhaging homeland,

gone crazy

gone mad

its blood curdling

its own healing word

gone astray with the strong winds

coming from all directions,

the winds tempting us to declare

a moratorium of deaths & despair

in order to get to our feet to fight the foe

in our hearts,

the emotions expressing themselves

in raw forms & shapes & language,

killing us softly even as we partake

of new promises for a new dawn,

the breaking

of a new day from the deep & dark night.

The dictator, sick & losing sanity with his

bloated bluff & the blunder of a wife's

blackmailing him

& his promised greatness of a land,

showed himself off,

his dictator's exhibit number one,

the chest of a carinoso primero,

the decaying muscle of a madman,

& capricious self-importance entwined.

To prove my loyalty to his oath, he said.

So he showed the carcass of his mind,

once genuine

once pristine

once eloquent

now the epitaph of a murderous love

of land and lust

of people and their power.

& so we kept on, the young wife

& the young man,

their dream of home & hearth blessed

forever by the stars and skies

in the sidestreets of their loves, ours,

in Palawan in Sta. Mesa

& then moving to Maria Payo

& then moving to the days

of extreme need & want

even as the funeral of a hero

gathered millions to see him go,

blessed him more & more for the courage

blessed him more & more for the energy

that rebuilt us in this infinity of extreme sacrifice

the angered hungry land called us to offer.

We witnessed all even as we dreamed:

the snap elections that electrified us

with its newly-minted 20-peso bills

that made the rounds of slums

& squatters colonies

& guilt-stricken minds.

We remember there was this family fight,

the daughter & the father,

the daughter the young wife.

Did the father say

do not take it, the freshly & crisp

bills with the blabbing boast

of a dying god

do not

take it & put it into the pockets of fate

& our direst destinies.

Do not be practical.

Do not be pragmatic.

Do not be w-i-s-e. As wise as the traitors of a land.

But more. & more transcending.

The young wife said

she was taking the bribe to buy milk for the son,

born before his time, always in a hurry

like all the babies in those dimmest of days,

coming before the early hours

had the chance to peep

into the window of our new love,

this young one who did not see the fear

in us but was there just the same,

his presence the cause of his mother's fear,

her challenge to his young man to get real

& get lost

& scram

& drop all his willingness to fight,

hand-in-hand with the rest, the clerics

as well as those who despised them,

the nuns as well as those who think

of them as the capitalists of our charities,

the seminarians who dream of sex with sirens

from tabloid centerfolds they insert

in their breviaries & bible commentaries,

the socialites with their fake standard English

& their military security men as drivers

moonlighting as their lovers,

the party leaders of both hands & in-between

who dream of raking it all,

the resources & respect,

the wealth & wisdom,

the dignity & decency

they could buy in four-gives or five-six

or in appending on their names the flat word,

"honorable" as an honorable man can be

with his delusions of grandeur and devilish ways,

one act for the public to consume,

another for the private world to keep

such as: the giving of varnished coffins for the dead

& accepting commissions from a relief project

for victims of truth and meaning

for victims of fellow victims

for victims of the impotency to name our pains

& call it quits, this lie that was always poised

to resurrect, always poised to resurrect.

We saw it all, the young wife & the young man,

& those were the days of doom & gloom

& the social cancer kept on spreading

& the social cancer could not be arrested

& the social cancer got bigger & bigger

& the social cancer became a behemoth

& the social cancer became a bad phantasm

for a young couple and their first born

trying to grow in years with grace.

The young man with the young wife

& the young child said: I go.

I go & you cannot tell me I cannot.

& so he went to the Mendiola of his fears,

climbed over the iron fortress

of a palace of booby traps,

& brought home a piece of a barb wire

for the memories.

He saw the anger & he told this to his son

who knew from his silence and the clapping

of his chubby hands, a less than a year-old

listener of narratives of collective aches.

The royal picture

had been ransacked, stepped on,

with a thousand

heavily-burdened steps & soiled footmarks

marking the smiles of daughters,

a son, & a pair of parents

that forgot how to reign in their strange lives.

We moved on from here.

We moved on from the stories of selling

books for a bargain in Recto to buy

the medically prescribed milk

& the hopes for the better for the uncharted universe

of young parents with its countless challenges.

Or buy the medicine.

Or pay off the hospital money

for the two weeks of incubating a first born

& make him ready to face the world

of adults cheating us of our beautiful dreams.

Between them, the young wife & the young man

are 20 years. Among the children, the stories,

solemn & sanctifying, are twenty years

& will be told forever beyond the ages.

Aurelio S. Agcaoili

Torrance, CA

Dec. 26, 2005

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