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.