Friday, September 14, 2007

Memories of a Long Ago Summer

(The Nabasan Beach in Subic, the very same beach discussed in the poem below. Following Heraclitus' principle of change, it is not the same beach I chanced upon five years ago. The beach itself is not the same and so am I. )

Inspired by the lone summer trip that we took as a group of four single twenty-something girls five years ago, my dear old friend Les wrote me a poem which talks about the changes that happened since then and how change itself cannot be stopped. Aptly titling it, "Tales in the Sand," she likens the changes that took place between us, separately and together as friends, to the rocks that weather gradually to become the sands that we tread on the beach. Changes, she says, is inexorable, moves without our consent either for the better or the worse. I am glad to say that despite these changes in our lives, we have remained as very good friends. I post this poem here (without her knowledge) in appreciation for the many years of our friendship which began for the most trivial of reasons. Way back in highschool, Les and I became close friends as I remember her generously sharing her mathematics homework with me. She has shared so many other things with me since then and more valuable than those precious items is her gift of time and self. She has listened and seen me grow spiritually, mentally (and physically) over the years. Now, she shares her knowledge and love of philosophy by letting me "sit- in" in her feminism graduate study class. She is now my professor and I, her student. Indeed, the tides of time bring about unpredictable and crazy changes. I can't wait to know what will happen next.

Tales in The Sand

By Noelle Leslie de la Cruz

For M.R.G.

Years ago, you didn’t have a daughter yet
All four of us were single, closer to 20
Than to adulthood.
Our only out-of-town trip
Remember, that night-long drive through the forest
Passing sentinels of monkeys on the wayside
Their lax fingers dragging on the ground
And their tails curling like questions marks.

The sun had sunk behind the mountains
By the time we reached the road’s end
Where the beach poured into the bay.

You got out and ran to the water, jumping in
With all your clothes on.
We waded ankle-deep
And watched you swim as far out as you dared,
Your winged feet sinking beneath the surface
Like the phantom fins of a mermaid.

This is as close to the open sea as we can get
The warm, wet sand swirling around our limbs
I would have liked to tell you, I am changing
But my open mouth is full of sand
And I am drowning in this endless streaming
Through the funnel of God’s hourglass.

There is sand under my fingers, sand
In my damp hair and ears, sand
In my heart ground to dust as I watch you
Swim farther and farther out, until
You are a speck lost in the shifting grains.

Perhaps this is the secret of the ocean’s equanimity
And the millennial wisdom of the rocks:
Standing faithfully at the water’s edge
Against the onslaught of wind and brine, yielding
A fraction of a fraction of oneself, each year.

Just as we shed a rain of dead cells in our wake
As time passes, so too must these great rocks
Surrender to the elemental encroachment
Becoming the sandy water we swim in today.

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