Filipino Lit Poetry Friday

Poetry Friday: Care of Light by Gemino H. Abad

For the past two Fridays, we shared poems from Professor Gemino H. Abad’s award-winning book In Ordinary Time. This Friday, I shall be sharing a poem that I enjoyed and read again and again from another one of his books entitled Care of Light: New Poems and Found published by Anvil in 2009.

Make sure that you also head over to Fomagrams who is hosting this week’s Poetry Friday. It will give you a chance to visit other fellow-poetry-lovers who come together for a few hours in celebration of verse. Trust me when I say that Friday is my favorite day of the week, primarily because I get to explore so many websites with soul-enriching posts.

Here is my offering this week from the poignant and all-too-real voice of Sir Jimmy:

Care of Light, from the book of the same title, 2009
As soon as it gets dark, I turn on the lights
in my old professor’s cottage, and the following
morning before office, turn them off again.
With one key I open the iron gate, and with two,
the main door. I turn the lamp on in her library,
the vigil light for the Sacred Heart on the shelf
jutting out a wall; then I switch on the single
electric bulb outside the kitchen, and last,
the red and green halogen like Christmas lights
below the front eaves.
            I follow strictly her instructions.
She loves order in her life, and requires
a similar order in other people’s behavior –
a discipline of mind sometimes terrorized
by the haps and hazards of thieving time.
She needs to be always in control,
but she’s old now and frail, can hardly walk,
deaf and half-blind, and often ill, so that,
having no choice, no housemaid able to endure
her sense for order, she had to leave
and stay at her sister’s place,
                                                  finally dependent.
In the half-darkness and mustiness now
of her deserted cottage, all its windows closed,
her books and papers, once alive with breath
of her impetuous quests, are filmed with dust
on her long working table, awaiting it seems
her return.
                        I think of how a time ago
she’d walk briskly to her early morning class,
dressed in style to shame old maids; then call
our names as though each had irreplaceable
post in her invincible order of things;
and then, her shoulders hunched, teach
with a passion that, before the imperious gale
of her questioning, drove us bleating
on the open plain of the world’s sharp winds.
                          So; at the day’s end,
I’m her lamplighter on her silent asteroid,
among books, papers, rubble of chalk.
I close the gate behind me as I stride out,
making sure I hear the lock’s tiny click.
I follow strictly her instructions.
Down her street the street lamps cast
my shadow ahead. Crickets in the bushes
whirr according to their nature.
In the same order, the sun too will rise
tomorrow, and I shall be back.

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).

22 comments on “Poetry Friday: Care of Light by Gemino H. Abad

  1. Hello, Myra–
    Oh, how lovely! As a resolutely daytime person I wonder that I have never thought of light as something that needs care, but this poem took me many levels past that first perception.
    It’s a tribute, of course, to the old professor, but a tribute to Sir Jimmy that I know her so well already: “then call/ our names as though each had irreplaceable/ post in her invincible order of things.”

    Like

  2. Fabulous! That is really wonderful. I will save it to read again.
    The cover of Care of Light is beautiful, too.

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  3. “a discipline of mind sometimes terrorized / by the haps and hazards of thieving time.”

    i don’t know why, but that particular phrase rings so true to me. that’s going to be ringing in my head all day. in a good way.

    Like

  4. What a beautiful poem — sad, reflective, wistful, hopeful. So much reverence, a study of light and dark. The “lock’s tiny click” — so complete and precise. Wonderful sensual images throughout. I can see why you like this poem so much!

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  5. I’m going to save those lines and think about them in terms of teaching:
    “…teach
    with a passion that, before the imperious gale
    of her questioning, drove us bleating
    on the open plain of the world’s sharp winds.”

    Thanks for posting it!

    Like

    • Hi Julie, thank you for visiting. It is a gift – learning from such passionate educators – the intensity makes itself known through osmosis, and the student is forever enslaved by it.

      Like

  6. Pingback: poetry friday is HERE! « fomagrams

  7. The poem honors so much: trusted caregivers, passionate, uncompromising teachers, earnest students. It’s like a microcosm of what is perfect in life, to be sought. Thank you for sharing; I don’t know this poet.

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    • Linda, I could not have said it better. “Microcosm of what is perfect in life, to be sought.” – Such striking truth. As an educator myself, I couldn’t wish for more.

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  8. This poem stirs so much in me — a better understanding of my husband’s obsessive instructions to our house sitters, the time I house sat for my children’s literature professor, the need for routine and ritual, the tending of light, the way the sun tends our light on earth…

    Thanks for a great poem!

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    • Hi Mary Lee, what is even lovelier – I think – is that all your comments have enriched my experience of this poem even more – I love how poetry gathers us all together every Friday. 🙂

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  9. What a beautiful poem. I agree with all the comments and think how care of the light in the cottage keeps the appearance that nothing has changed when, in fact, everything has changed. Routines are often what grounds us through life’s tragedies. Maintaining daily chores for someone who is unable cares for that person as much as the light or the property. So many levels here!

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  10. These two, teacher and student, have found a way to answer the inevitable, encroaching darkness. They are both part of something bigger than themselves, the current flow from teacher to student, from poet to reader. THer is consolation in keeping the promise that it will go on.

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  11. Pingback: Poetry Friday: Walking Free by Gemino H. Abad |

  12. Pingback: Carnival of Children’s Literature and Round up for October |

  13. Hello Ms. Myra Grace, what a coincidence, my name is Grace too, but, simply Grace, well, I do like poems but not to the extent of your liking, who knows, maybe I did not discover it yet, that I am bound to create poems of my own. Ms. MG, I am writing to inquire as to how I can reach Sir Gemino Abad, its about his poem Care of Light, I would like to ask for a permission to use it. Please if you can help me, I am working as copyright coordinator for C & E Publishing, Inc. and would like to secure clearance for his poem for our book “Philippine Literature Today”, your kind response will be greatly appreciated. My e-mail address is grace.guerrero@cebookshop.com

    Thank you.

    Sincerely,

    Grace

    Like

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