Wednesday, January 16, 2008

From Tongue In Cheek to Limpid Poetry

I’ve been rolling out some tongue-in-cheeky stuff lately. My friends with whom I’ve shared my blog call or email to say my posts are funny. I can’t complain. I consider “You’re funny” to be a compliment. At least NOW I do. Used to be a time when I wasn’t too pleased with that observation about me.

I’m the middle of three daughters. My older sister, Corazon, or Cora for short, is a very elegant and regal beauty. Up to this day she’s skinny and beautiful. My younger sister, Kristina, nicknamed Mayita, is the pretty, doll-like one. Up to now she’s still cute as a button. Me? I was the funny and friendly one. I never got any compliments about my looks. The closest I got was, “Nice purse.” So funny is good. I’ll take funny. Thank you very much!

My cheekiness comes from my mother, Trinidad Tarrosa Subido, one of my country’s most distinguished writers. She has long since passed on but her words and wit will live forever. In an early poetic exercise, she writes:

Of Critics

When I in honesty observe
My verse has light, and lilt, and verve,
They up and wallop me with heat
For such delusion and conceit.
Then, when THEY write me up, they write
About my Verve, and Lilt and Light;
And my conceit and self-deception
Becomes their Critical Perception.

One of my mom’s poems is included in Diana Culbertson’s “Invisible Light -- Poems About God” published by Columbia University Press. I must say I’m immensely proud of her inclusion. She’s in good company there with the likes of the classical John Milton and Ralph Waldo Emerson, the 20th century’s D.H. Lawrence, Thomas Hardy and Anne Sexton, among others.


God, but I do
Worship you.
Nun-like adoration? no.
Like a bird? so:
natural as breath.
I shall pray when prayer is
lips’ caprice
like the trilling of a bird
God to me, and prayer
is as song to bird, and air:
not sacramental.

But mostly my mom is known for her passionate and limpid poetry. She was way ahead of her time. For a Filipina, her unabashed articulation of emotion and human desire was outside the cultural “norm.”


While the enamored stars would dare
Seaward to leap,
Seeking a truer heaven in
The loved deep,
My love, so near me on the grass –
What cowardice! --
Dares not to melt his mouth upon
My waiting kiss.

I cannot understand, O moon,
Cloud-kissed now and then,
You still remain unsullied
Before the eyes of men
Who think me now unchastely,
A blot upon me thrown,
Seeing my lover’s shadow brush
The fringes of my own.

Some days, when I’m overtaken with melancholy, I feel the pulse of my impassioned progeny, so I try and I cry:

For lovers absent, still unmet --
Will I ever fall under the spell of
your sensuousness?
Will I see the spark in your eyes
When you behold my hidden beauty?
Will you beam me the warmth of your desire
And the feather touch of your tenderness?
Maybe never, maybe ever
For always I will long for dreams impossible,
A love beyond matter and human form
Divine only in essence
So instead I turn to prayer
For the only heaven I know
Within is the love, not without --
Within is The One, My Only Love.


blujay said...

Now I know where you got your genius Maya! ...and BTW, you are BEAUTIFUL!

Suzette West, RECS, EBA said...

Your blog is so lovely, Maya. I find the words here so soothing to my soul. Thank you for being who you are.

Kopi said...

i loved d poem you wrote coz i can relate to it...nice one! i'll bookmark your page.

Kopi said...

i love the poem you have written...coz i can relate to it.nice one

Jeffrey said...

Wow. I will be having my demo teaching this month and guess what, my piece is your mom's Paganly. So excited :))