Asian Literature and Immigrant Experience Poetry Friday

Poetry Friday: Postcards for Home

Over the years, I’ve accumulated a small collection of poetry books, specifically Filipino poetry both in English and in the Filipino language. In truth, I am unfamiliar with most of these poets. My purchase of their books had more to do with the words within the covers than with the poet’s name. When it came to poetry, the only way I choose which collection to buy, is by reading a few selections. For poetry that doesn’t stir anything inside me is lost to me. Chartered Prophecies by Alice M. Sun-Cua was one of those random purchases, where the words within the pages called to me. I have featured a poem from this same collection last month called Midwife. Today, I feature another of her poems for Poetry Friday hosted by A Year of Reading

Alice M. Sun-Cua according to her about the author page is a practicing obstetrician-gynecologist at San Juan de Dios Hospital in Manila, Philippines. She is a graduate of the University of Sto. Tomas faculty of Medicine and Surgery, and is a fellow of the Philippine Obstetrical and Gynecological Society.  She was a fellow in English poetry at the Iligan National Writers Workshop (1997) and the University of the Philippines National Writers Workshop (1998). She obtained her M.F.A in Creative Writing from De La Salle University, and is currently writing her thesis for an M.S. in Clinical Epidemiology at the College of Medicine, University of the Philippines. [ Whether or not this description holds true for 2012 is uncertain, but as of the book’s 2002 publication this was the poets description].

Postcards from Home isn’t directly about immigration, but gives you a view of a person in a foreign country referencing home once in a while. I hope you enjoy this little celebration of our May/June bimonthly Theme.

Postcards for Home

They call them lamingtons here, chiffon squares

Of cake, iced with chocolate, rolled in coconut,

Vanilla cream hidden between layers.

Taking them with steaming orange pekoe,

We lean back against iron-grilled chairs

To look out into bustling Bondi, the bleached

Sand hurting our bare eyes, water and waves

Beckoning the populace into winter morning revelries.

At a distance, the stately houses look

Like tiny models perched on mountain crags,

Windowpanes glinting against the light.

This city that celebrates winter in July

Continues to unfold. Two months into a half-year

Sojourn, I think of the mailbox at home in Lane Cove,

As it stands slightly apart in the front lawn

Of our flat along Little Lane. Thursday afternoon,

From the second floor bedroom window

I sat and watched raindrops fall and slick

Over the iron-gray metal box that the postman

Had disdained for days on end. My thoughts

Turned to tropical suns and brown-skinned friends,

Whose hearts and seasons do not know winter.

The silence was broken only by the startling

Old woman shrieks from a kookaburra

Hiding in an old gum tree. That was an afternoon

Of weeping skies, damp earth and ancient trees.

But today is for sunlight. From the beach

We shall motor back to the city and climb

The pylons of the harbor bridge again. There

We shall touch clouds hovering over Sydney Cove,

Where ferries and sailboats leave with white plumes,

The waters glittering against a fierce noonday sun

From the blues of skies. What does it matter

If the winds threaten to pluck us out from our perches,

As we cling resolutely onto the pylon sides,

Looking down bustling Cahill Expressway

Stretching sinuously like a flute notes from

A didgeridoo, melding into the highway leading

To our North Shore home? We shall stay there

Until the early stars, sending a chill

Into our wayward hearts, come in.

The gleaming cables of the Centerpoint Tower

Shall shine like burnished filigree, vibrant

Even in the winter chill, while the Opera House

Shall hunker down on her elegant haunches,

Resplendent in her gilt-edged, misty emerald gown,

Lost in her own powdered and perfumed dreams.

I

20 comments on “Poetry Friday: Postcards for Home

  1. This remembering home poem reminds me just a bit of Jama’s poem this week!

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  2. What a wonderful poem. It makes me think of previous places I have lived. Thank you for sharing, Iphigene!

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    • Thanks for dropping by Jeff. I’m glad you enjoyed this poem. When I read this, it did make me think of the places i’ve been and how I wish i could paint with words those experience in the same way the poet did.

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  3. Such nostalgia that everyone must feel once in a while when a long way from what is home, even from the past. What an amazing poet, to be a doctor and return to school for another kind of learning. Thanks Iphigene.

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    • Hi Linda,
      I was equally amazed upon reading the background on the poet. Amazing thing indeed. And yes, we all feel that nostalgia and excitement when we are abroad.

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  4. What a multi-talented person! Great imagery in this poem. Thanks for sharing.

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  5. I can really relate to this poem, as both an immigrant and someone who was temporarily transplanted to Australia. Now back in America I miss the Lamington and the “Old woman shrieks from a kookaburra”.

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    • It’s nice to here that while this poem was written by a Filipino there is something that everyone can relate to. I have yet to taste a Lamington. 🙂

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  6. What a beautiful poem. Full of marvelous details of place.

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  7. “My thoughts/Turned to tropical suns and brown-skinned friends.” Perfect homesick poem! Ruth (thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com)

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  8. There is always a longing for the place one first knew of home…this poem took me back to India, and all that I still remember…and miss….

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    • Hi Tara,
      The beauty of poetry (of all literature) is its ability to transport us to places and remind us of experiences and feelings. By your comment, I gather this is what this poem has done for you.

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  9. I have also had that strange feeling of being half a world away, thinking of the mailbox empty on the lane at home. Love the feel of this poem!

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    • Hi,
      I’m glad you enjoyed the poem. I like how you put it “thinking of the mailbox empty on the lane at home” its sort of a line in a poem too. 🙂

      Like

  10. Such a gorgeous poem, Iphegene! Thanks for sharing. I especially like, “Stretching sinuously like a flute notes from/A didgeridoo” and that glorious description of the Opera House at the end.

    Like

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