The saddest line of the night, apologies to Neruda, is this: I don’t miss home anymore.
I think about home sometimes, usually during the ungodly hour of the night when souls are at their most fragile. And when I think of home, I think of the past, of memories lived and now cherished, of regrets nurtured but now tempered. I have learned to nod terms with my old self, apologies to Didion, and I am now at peace with my decision.
I don’t miss home anymore, but I still call it as it is — home, and always will be.
bicol express, manhattan stop
no geographical coordinate can pinpoint
a word that embodies a concept:
home is not a location, remembered in distant lands.
nor is it a journey from the road to Mayon,
where all beginnings take root invoked in sepia,
nor an arrival of an express train to the Upper East Side
in Manhattan, people ask me what i am.
all answers lead nowhere
in my head, i am neither a citizen or a national
but a transient between memories, moving through
post-it-notes and found postcards
to forgetting what cannot be remembered.
home is not a word.
it is a language of the sense:
an approximation of ingredients
to create the right mnemonic
in the pan, bicol express simmers—
the steam of bagoong and gata rising
to a smell abhorred by neighbors
who call it too ethnic, but to me it is
decoding the landmarks of my past,
the sili burning tracks
on my esophagus, a combination of words
that defies expression—
my tongue incapable of speech
as it recalls the taste tugging at my throat:
the loss of what cannot be recovered in
each meal, the comfort that makes my eyes water.
The poem above was published in the the anthology Crowns and Oranges: Works by Young Philippine Poets (2009), edited by Cirilo F. Bautista and Ken Ishikawa.
The featured image is Cycles by Dawani de Leon.