falling - mike maniquiz

by Mike Maniquiz
California State University, Fresno

On that day you jumped the air smelled metallic.
It has always been like that in Manila.
Vehicles clog the arteries of the city,
fumes from exhaust pipes rise like incantations.
But it is beautiful and silent at the top,
above metropolitan rush,
and like a possessed priestess bestowed
with absolute knowledge, you knew just how
to name the wind who witnessed that day.
I cried like you once did
about a subject you could never paint:
uncertainty, the beast you strove to tame.
You painted patterns of our subconscious
in monotone gray and black, saying too many
times that the canvas is the human mind.
How pleased I was when I walked in once
and saw a smudge of yellow in the frame.
How much of what we do is surrendering?
Did your arms spread when you left into the wind?
Did they ache, ripped of mortal weight?
Did your heart burst and scatter
into a million moths swarming your sky?
Did you hear the black sound of the earth's lullaby?
Your slender body, a blade of grass in the universe,
how could it have contained the whirling storm
inside you? Where I live now in the Midwest,
old-timers talk of how dry the air tastes
before a funnel cloud touches ground.
But I will remember you for the flower
that fell on the floor when you wouldn't spend
the night with me in the mountains of Baguio.
That was years ago and in monsoon season.
Have to catch the midnight bus, you said,
and snapped up the bouquet of wildflowers.
In your haste, you failed to notice
one dropped from the bundle.
I now imagine you on the bus,
the sallow yellow light,
the window where you could see
nothing but your reflection,
nothing of the twists and bends of the mountain road,
nothing of the cliffs that plunge
hundreds of feet into the darkness.
In some other time you would have stayed
because of the rain.
The tiled floor that framed the blossom's fall
I now recall, was of a deep burgundy,
and the purplish wine,
that flower is called Everlasting.
It retains shape and color even when it dies.
You had enough demon inside
to spring a suprise on us, however trite.
At that moment, my mind could only offer
this envelope. Inside it, a note that says,
No one hears a tornado touch ground.
No one knows it's heaven's terrifying flower.
If your stay means anything at all, I should
be able to picture you soaked outside the door,
amid the scent of mountain rain and pine.
But there's always the day you jumped.
Even in art, we are constrained by the lines
before us. And we are at the mercy of the sun.

published in the mid-american review, 25th anniversary issue

Mid-American Review 25th Anniversary Issue

mike - thanks for the lines, and for letting me post this. :-)

ahahaha... oh. i'm still giddy about this book being given me for christmas.

images of baguio
images of manila
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