poet's sanctum Poetry Friday

Poetry Friday: Suite Hip of the Earth from Tala Mundi

This is (sadly) going to be our Last Post for our Poet’s Sanctum for July and August with our featured Poet: Madam Tita Lacambra Ayala. Here I shall be sharing with you a few selections from the last Suite in her latest book Tala Mundi edited by Ricardo M. de Ungria – called the Suite Hip of the Earth.

This Suite (which happens to be my favorite, by the way) is a collection of Tala’s poems which de Ungria refers to “love and relationship in as many ways as possible, including talking about unlove and talking about love by not talking about it” (p. 292). Perhaps Tala’s voice would be able to capture this last section of the book more fully:

Actually my poetry was a nocturnal activity taking the place of evening prayers. It was an attempt to tie together, to rationalize all the internal and external happenings of one’s life into a sensible whole. It was a try at preserving my own identity and sanity in my given space, role, and environment. (p. 292 in Tala Mundi)

Photo courtesy of Madam Tita's brilliant singer-songwriter daughter, Cynthia Alexander

Now, here are two of the poems that struck a chord within me from this Suite. Do check out the other regular contributors to Poetry Friday which is being hosted this week by Irene at Live Love Explore!

Love Poem by Tita Lacambra Ayala, 1984, p. 351 in Tala Mundi

pick a door to enter
pick a door to walk out of
where the rain will not
soil or muddy up your feet
and remembrance is a knife
sharp enough to keep
the edges straight
           and deep
the pools of oil in the
tarred street
rainbow suns
what message shall I enter in the
directory of secrets or wise
          sayings to calm
that absent part
blooms in the mind’s eye
explode showering petals
the mirror is empty and 
I seek your face
Tita Lacambra Ayala by Lydia Ingle - artwork was shared by Cynthia Alexander

The Dragon by Tita Lacambra Ayala, 1963, p. 311 in Tala Mundi

He sat there curling his tail
upon the basket chair, smoking
a hookah. Told me to turn
the radio quiet, too, then puffed
blue smoke about (he was
in a blue mood) and flexed
a clawy toe. “Now then,”
he said, “if you would consider
a stay with me where there
are only gulls for sky and 
starfish, yes only starfish,
upon the floor (no more dust
to sweep, mind you) would you-
would you then go?” I might have
might have then, too. Only
who would mind Baby and spoon
his soup? And who would weed
the flower garden when I am gone?

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

16 comments on “Poetry Friday: Suite Hip of the Earth from Tala Mundi

  1. “the mirror is empty and
    I seek your face” !! Beautiful.

    Love that photo of her.


  2. I’m with Tabatha. I also love the idea of writing about “unlove.” Who does that?? Will use that as my writing prompt today. Thanks for sharing!


    • Hi Irene! Thanks for hosting this week’s Poetry Friday and for visiting as well. I know what you mean about the idea of writing about ‘unlove’ – such a felt truth. I’m happy that it inspired you to use it for a writing prompt.


  3. What a beautiful idea that poetry stands in for evening prayers. Thanks for sharing that quote and the poems.


    • Hi Laura! Thank you for dropping by. I loved your post about the 100,000 Poets for Change – reposted it on FB and Twitter. I thought it was such a beautiful initiative.

      I’m glad you enjoyed both the commentary and the poetry.


  4. “and remembrance is a knife
    sharp enough to keep
    the edges straight
    and deep”


    Poets explain the truth so clearly.


  5. These brought tears to my eyes. The first was written the year I was married to my wonderful hubby, and the second, the year I was born. Love the photo and line drawing, too – thank you so much for sharing this series! Amazing how poetry reaches across the world, across cultures, across decades.


    • It was my pleasure and privilege to share Tita Lacambra Ayala’s distinct voice to the universe. It brings me great joy that it has moved you as much as it moved me.


  6. Oh, I love the strangeness in The Tiger – “only gulls for sky and / starfish, yes only starfish, / upon the floor ” – I think poetry lives in these kinds of details about real, touchable things that still have the power to haunt us like ghosts – or maybe what haunts us is why those two objects were chosen, along with the Baby and the spoon. Lots to think about. Thanks so much for sharing, Myra.


    • The Dragon has also touched a chord within me – it somehow demonstrates the pivotal role that women/wives/mothers play in family life – how the Dragon/Father/Husband/Lover sees this role played out – and the little details in between.


  7. Ooops – I mean The Dragon, not the Tiger!


  8. “blooms in the mind’s eye
    explode showering petals”

    Sublime! I’m so glad I found this blog and got introducted to Tita’s work.

    Thanks for another lovely, inspiring post!


    • Hi Jama, thanks for dropping by. The imagery is just wonderful, isn’t it. I also love your site and am glad to continually be directed to it every Friday. Your travels are wonderful.


  9. Pingback: Carnival of Children’s Literature and Round-up for August |

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