Apoptosis*

Poetry by | April 30, 2017

(for Lola Mommy)

 

Everything passes

from this life

on to the next.

Everything moves

toward something better.

It’s natural to lose some things.

 

This is the lesson

I remember

from our little chats

on quiet afternoons

in your old house

when it was just the two of us.

 

You told me to travel.

You said go

before age would interfere;

see the world.

You said you could wait

before your great grandchildren would arrive.

 

It’s been a year

since you left us—

since I learned that I had tarried.

Sometimes I regret that

I had not hoarded our times together.

Time was not on our side.

 

But today in the warm breeze

I feel your presence.

Your words echo in my memory

in this foreign land.

Even in your absence

you continue to shape me.

 

— from Marina Bay, Singapore

(23 March 2017)

 

*pronounced /æ.pəˈtoʊ.sɪs/ (“apo-to-sis”)


Genevieve Mae Aquino was born in Manila but calls Davao her home. She has a clutch of diplomas in molecular biology and genetics. She was fellow for Poetry in English at several national creative writing workshops. She currently works as a university researcher at the University of the Philippines.

Ode to Garlic

Poetry by | October 16, 2016

(for Janice)

He doesn’t want you.
Not with your pungent scent
marking the strength
of your personality.
He wants that onion-
head with her pale skin
and purple highlights.
Her sly manipulations
move him to tears,
make him want to
peel back her layers and
save her from herself.
But, you, Garlic, are
your own leading lady.
You don’t need a knight
in armor or Viking
prince or Scot in a kilt,
or any odd alpha male
to carry your burdens.
You are no weakling.
Not you, dear bulbous
heroine of the Kitchen.
You, who saved us from
vampires and toothaches.
Nightingale of the World
Wars, how many heroes
survived thanks to your
antiseptic intervention?
It’s not your loss,
dear Garlic, if he
wants a drama
queen in his life.
Come, let us peel away
your thin, fragile skin.
Crush your cloves
and toss you into
the vat of burning
oil, until you become
the gold that spices up
this bland world.
He may not
want you, but
we appreciate
your virgin sacrifice.


Genevieve Mae Aquino was born in Manila but calls Davao her home. She has a clutch of diplomas in molecular biology and genetics. She was fellow for Poetry in English at several national creative writing workshops. She currently works as a university researcher at the University of the Philippines.

Torsion

Poetry by | March 15, 2015

(for Myke)

It pains me to see
you wound up

over
your own existence

Your soul is a snail
twisting its viscera

to progress
          from embryo
                   to adulthood

Foot
          over
                   mouth

                   heels
          under
Head

                   Deliberately
          experiencing
the atrophy

before the unbearable pain
of bearing

the shell
of your sanctuary and prison

You must survive
this rite of passage

What is important is never easy


Genevieve Mae Aquino was born in Manila but calls Davao her home. She has a clutch of diplomas in molecular biology and genetics. She was fellow for Poetry in English at several national creative writing workshops.

Hyphenated

Poetry by | February 23, 2014

This little line

is as thrilling
as the feel of your hand

holding mine.

A sign of my changing
civil state,

this bridge connects

us across the invisible
chasm between your family

name and mine.

It proclaims
with wedding

bells ringing:

I am not alone
in this life.

We have each other

like the matched pair
of salt and pepper

shakers for the dining table

where your face
has replaced the view

from an open window.

This punctuation
is our union

on paper:

two hands welded
into a single segment

for all the world to see.


Genevieve Mae Aquino was born in Manila but calls Davao her home. She has a clutch of diplomas in molecular biology and genetics. She was fellow for Poetry in English at the INWW, ANWW, and IYAS Creative Writing Workshops.

A Möbius Trip

Poetry by | October 3, 2010

The shortest distance between us
is the line that begins on my palm,

travels past a row of cubicles,
exits the revolving doors
and goes around the corner
of the Open University buildings;

meanders along the highways
onto the southern tollway
then with the crisscrossing wires
of the Manila Metro Transit rails;

Continue reading A Möbius Trip

Ode to the Pomelo

Poetry by | May 24, 2009

It’s a contradiction, this curious round thing
changing from hard green to ripe yellow
with the bright blush of its hidden heart.
O pomelo, you filled my childhood in abundance
and you rolled down Davao streets like rain!

Familiar to my mouth as the mother tongue,
you defy my attempts at definition.
You’re too individual to be an orange,
and too charming to be called a lemon,
yet you mock the grapefruit’s pallid flesh.

How I struggle for words to contain
the thick bitter softness of your rind,
the juicy honeyed tang of your pulp!
But to hold you is to comprehend you
and to fathom you is to eat you.

In the artificial cold of supermarket stalls,
So small a gift from the Land of Promise,
I yearn to claim your ripening roundness
and partake your sweetness before it decays.
But they’ve put a price on you beyond my reach.

O pomelo, I long for you as I do my homeland
where we both were once free as eagles in flight.
I know inside you is full to bursting
with tales of home, much like my hidden heart
where my blood flows a bright pomelo pink.

Continue reading Ode to the Pomelo