GOING HOME TO A LANDSCAPE, Ten Years On: Catalina Cariaga and Virginia Cerenio

L'Fisher Chalet, Bacolod

View From Rooftop Terrace, L’Fisher Chalet, Bacolod

An excerpt from “No Sleep” by Catalina Cariaga

Moonlight fills our bedroom
through slats of open blinds.
The brightness of ninety-nine horizontal candles
reveals your expectant smile.
Don’t touch my breasts
while I’m reading.
You knew I was a writer
when you married me.

The brightness of ninety-nine horizontal candles
reveals your expectant smile.
I wake up suddenly
to re-read a poem I’ve written earlier.
You knew I was a writer
when you married me,
And my aunties like to talk about that interval of time
before we married they call, “courting.”

* * * *

An excerpt from my father has stopped eating

by Virginia Cerenio

I.

my father has stopped eating.
at 96 years
he has lost his appetite, he says
his favorite foods have no taste.
the french fries grow cold
in their grease-stained box.
the donuts lay on the plate
eating air in their staleness.
the coffee, creamed & sugared,
only a chaste sip.

my father has stopped eating.
he has lost his appetite, he says
and is ready to die
any time now
but God will not let him.
instead father grows gaunt.
his brown skin, stretched
tight across his cheekbones
mottled with sun kisses.

my father has stopped eating.

i remember our evening snacks
shared like a secret between us two.
buttered toast with maple syrup or sprinkled sugar
fresh sliced peaches heaped in a bowl with milk and sugar.
just last year, he brought me alamang
shrimp paste sautéed with garlic and eggs.
we finished off the leftover rice
with fried Spam
eating until we could eat no more
each bite another memory swallowed into the past.

II.

my father has stopped eating.
a Filipino who no longer thinks of the next meal
is either insane or close to death.
we look for excuses to share a meal.
you cannot understand us
until we have shared rice together.
to turn down food is an insult to our brown souls.

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