I don’t have to leave this land
that has memorized me, birth
place palimpsest to my restless
feet. No longer true I still write
steps where trees echo shadows
for the sun to read. My body
has turned against me, keeping
mobility bordered, reciting to my
ankles pain’s threnody, its diction
from inflammation’s early drafts,
repeated for my mind to draw
skin and bones. Ease now
a distant country, misted, full
of murmurs. I live in a time
when the sea spells migration
with a why, not an I. I live
in self-sustaining silence, stillness
refusing to lift the last weight.
Bring your instrument.
Cross tomorrow’s field,
see the dying planet.
Be gentle with breath,
be kind to the graze,
to roots, feathered grace.
Past the shrinking forest,
beyond the bridge’s brow,
skyline of glass and steel.
Let winds from your lungs stream,
let city dwellers hear with their skin.
Care the plainsong, onyx music.
Clear the congregation’s route.
Hope storms: tell them
to change today
if they want to stay.
Before I lost momentary means
I hungered for sunlight, ears
abloom to hummingbirds.
I tongued the dialect of trees,
leaf sounds turning into truffles,
air cool to my wonder.
But my body is also hungry,
growing corns on my toes,
Thickened skin like cobs, hard
to friction like teeth. I watered pain,
refusing to rest. I want to smell
pus caramel, but my spine is turning
into a frozen delight. My body feeds,
eating from inside out, blood sweet,
kidneys salted, liver well-flavored.
Obedience the last lesson my body
teaches. I’ve to observe. Jogging days
are gone, my legs tell me, my calves
making me imagine carved limestone
quarries. I name the pebble in my shoe
phantom - sharp to my numb toe.
I could no longer lift the bottle
into its dispenser, without the rib pulsing,
short breaths like shells to my chest’s
soft tissues. I have to halve its contents,
pour mineral water into the plastic pitcher
by letting the floor cushion the heavy container.
I expected the mirror to show biceps
but my mind makes me see rotten
deflated mangoes. Cheekbones push
surprise against skin, but nothing’s still
powerful to upset me. The mask that wraps
my face is called consequence.
My left bursa flashing like lightning.
My rotator cuff tendon rolling for weeks
as the quiet thunder. The deltoid echoes
the delta - sound flowing to my ribcage.
I got addicted to the opioid of silence,
vastus medialis humming into a void.
My chest has turned tubercular, bones
like cliffs that keep the fjord. The glacier
sometimes cools my lungs, mint air
I breathe in like an egret in the sky.
I feel the looming transition,
my memory still strong.
Notes: “delta” and “sound” also as bodies of water. The last line - “my memory still strong” - carries an allusion to what science calls “muscle memory.”
For Bowitch, whose registered name at the veterinary hospital is Starsky
As Bowitch yields his body to fire,
his seven months and fourteen days
with me consumed, I sit where leather
cushions offer more years of comfort
my dead dog won’t know, aircon
turning pale the jade in my ribcage.
White board on a wall shows
one of life’s routes: in red and black ink
soon to be wiped off, like names, addresses,
dates of burial/cremation, name of hearse
driver. Death smiles at my refusal to let go.
As fire frazzles flesh and fur, grief recites
its names. Guilt I carry doesn’t burn,
weight of absence as I wait for my pup’s
ashes like more years together we’ll
November 19, 2019
Jonel Abellanosa: "I live in Cebu City, the Philippines. My poetry and fiction are forthcoming in Chiron Review, Poetry Salzburg Review, Eunoia Review, and have appeared in hundreds of literary journals, including Thin Air, Rigorous, Poetry Kanto, Loch Raven Review, That Literary Review and The Anglican Theological Review. His poetry collections include, Songs from My Mind’s Tree and Multiverse (Clare Songbirds Publishing House, New York), 50 Acrostic Poems, (Cyberwit, India), In the Donald’s Time (Poetic Justice Books and Art, Florida), and Pan’s Saxophone (Weasel Press, Texas)."