The following was recently published in Humani Corporis, the commemorative 60th anniversary literary folio of Medics, the official student publication of the UP College of Medicine.
When we were three,
we would bring out our shovels
and dig through the damp earth
in grandmother's garden.
We told ourselves we'd find
treasure, like gold, maybe,
or plastic toys from another planet.
What we were digging for actually,
we'd later realize when we were no longer
hairless, brainless kids,
was buried time.
You used to tell me stories
to put me to sleep, and/ or
to let go of me, to let me escape,
to get me lost in the wilderness.
You used to say I was a penguin;
I was an oak, the Prince of Wales -
wherever Wales is - that I was something
instead of the nothing that I am,
the nobody in a nowhere
that I turned out to be.
Or did you intentionally drop me
off the wrong stop? Or did I hitch
the wrong bus, because buses
look the same, or walk
down a yellow-brick road
because there's no such thing?
Heart, like hand or head,
is spelled with a consonant:
an 'h' like in heathen, or harpsichord,
or what begins the 'how'
in a 'how are you?' that's meant to say
'have you been to better places than I?'
But the consonance is lost in the bloodbath,
the beating, the burst of tangled energy
from a half-living human
I was wrong. I was deceived.
I thought pain was an excuse
that all men used - to kill,
to slice bread, to partake
of stolen wine, to screw.
My shovel is broken.
Grandmother is long dead.
The garden is overgrown with weeds,
the roses have long wilted.
There is only the house
with its fallen roof, cracked walls,
creaking doors, and the corner
where I buried time.
And there is my body, rotting,
grasping for that last breath of memory,
seeking to remember a face
I used to know.