Poetry | Shalom Galve Aranas

Mama Medicine

I find a garden of medicine
 inside myself.
Sometimes I dig in
and find stuff like
mermaid’s tail, tinsel soldiers,
a mossy blanket,
my darkest nightmare
thrusting from below.
Other times, when I cannot bear it
I find a garden filled with herbs and spices
for healing, I remember the Banaba tree
whose branch entered our second floor
with lavender flowers meant for solace.
I find weeds I drew on paper, so dry
they were the only things that could grow in the garden
in that place, Sta. Rosa.  An Indian mango tree would flower, bloom
and grant us green fruits in the shape of heart valves.
My daughter would bring in her friends from the house next door
and play until her friend said her auntie and her papa were the
best of friends, at night while I slept on Benadryl and Lithium.
It was so funny and laughter is the best
medicine, of all.

The Indonesian Contact
(Lombok, Indonesia, Earthquake, 2018)

I’ve lost contact
when you went to Bali.
Could there be more
of an earthquake
making my bones quiver
as I scan the sea
of faces?
The shiny bells tolling
for the death knell
and I find you among
the rubble embracing
your lover from the
roof carving her back
or pulling her
from the fissures
of love
like the depths of
her skin. You
said a sudden goodbye
and now nothing
but the dust now settling
to reveal a chaos
of children, women and men, elderly
under the weight of
rubble like wads of
leaves crushed by
the new culture
of the climate we
cannot grapple
nor understand. I wish
for you a future where
our children will live
through all this
all over the world
smiting, resisting
the call of prophets,
scientists who gloat
with earnest compassion:
we told you so.

Life is too short for therapies
On unrequited loves
and yet I spend money on it
as though it would kill me,
as though life were measured
between birth and death
and in between is the
crux of the matter, we suffer
we love, we die with our heads
against the walls of our graves
or as ashes thrown over bare hilltops
because no one can own our bodies
but the earth staring like an eye
to the bluest sky.

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