The footsteps she leaves are consistently interrupted by white lines as narrow as threads. You see them, then feel compelled to tilt your head upwards. You feel your brow compress into sutures as you consider the limpid light. The edges of your vision are rimmed in gold.
On one occasion, you walked the dusty streets of a forgotten town in Nepal. You passed through a storefront for the dimness you sensed would cool your shallow breaths. A man stepped forward from the shadows lingering on the walls. When he smiled, he blinded you with his teeth and you blinked. As your lashes fluttered open you saw a thin trail of smoke evaporating from the cup of tea immediately in your hand.
Let us discuss the passage of an hour, your mother once said. Let us discuss how the tilt of a minute hand is both inconsequential and fraught with meaning. And, your mother added after a silence fell like a wool cloak, how the importance of an hour becomes relegated to the sound of each quiver from the hand on the face of an otherwise mute clock. In response, your belly began to simmer and you asked faintly into the silence, Mother: how did you come to speak like this?
Over her footsteps, the edges of chiffon dresses once swayed with the breeze. Your favorite evoked rainbows and butterflies traipsing through rays of light. Once, she paused and turned to offer you an orange. You have never forgotten the experience of peeling away its thick hide—the remnants that would cling between the edges of your nails and skin. There were seeds, but you welcomed their bitterness to heighten the bursting sweetness of jasmine, of honeysuckle, against your tongue.
These memories are a single weight and you are the one with the extended palm, open and trusting the fall of light against the flesh that surrounds your life lines.
From the edge of your extended palm, air spills and as your gaze follows, you see her footsteps carefully straddling the thin excuse for a rope.
The Poet’s Notes on Her Poem
“The Chase” is one of the poems on my first and only CD collection, “The Empty Flagpole,” released through Jeepney Productions (San Francisco, 2000). In that CD, Mei-mei Berssenbrugge is a guest artist by allowing one of her readings to be part of the project. Mei-mei’s work was one of the most important influences in my early poetic development, and one of the facets I admire(d) about her poetry is the sense of suspension that occurs while one is in the middle of one of her poems. The effect, for me, could occur while reading one of Mei-mei’s poems. But it also is discernible—and I believe many who’ve heard her read her poetry may agree—while Mei-mei reads her poems. In “The Chase,” I was trying to evoke a similar space: a space of suspension, a suspension of space (and perhaps of time). Everything else falls away and one is simply suspended within the poem.
In addition to being featured on the CD "The Empty Flagpole," her poem "The Chase" is also in her first poetry book, Beyond Life Sentences, now out of print after receiving the Philippines' National Book Award for Poetry.
Eileen R. Tabios is the editor of Galatea Resurrects. Her 2017 poetry releases include four books, two booklets and six poetry chaps. Most recently, she released MANHATTAN: An Archaeology (Paloma Press, U.S.A.), Love in a Time of Belligerence (Editions du Cygne/SWAN World, France), and THE OPPOSITE OF CLAUSTROPHOBIA: Prime's Anti-Autobiography (The Knives Forks Spoons Press, U.K.). Her books have been released in nine countries and cyberspace. Her writing and editing works have received recognition through awards, grants and residencies. More info about her work at http://eileenrtabios.com
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