You are a child, my child
You are both an old wrinkly woman and a young foolish girl.
Aged in the way you look people straight in the eyes, steady enough to see that little flicker of surprise to see you do so, when so many others fixate on anywhere else. You, so determined to recognize every passing, as if it is as poetic as you often falsely believe it to be.
But you remain young, so young.
Young in the way you let the bottom of the pot burn, as you got distracted while slowly sucking on that thin cigarette that rightfully makes your fingers tremble. Lost in the wandering prison of your own mind, listening to Tree by Olafur Arnalds, watching the snowy covered limbs of the branches dance, completely oblivious to all but the feel of the wind against their seasoned bark.
Aged in the way you sought out this space, your little carved-out escape from the world that both gave birth to you and denies you a place to call home. Yet you are so undeniably young and fertile, a lesson which left you with scars and that space, when asked to describe, you told her was “gaping hole in your chest,” which you have carefully filled but never forgotten.
Some invisible part of you beams when they say you are “wiser than your years,” but you remember the foolish ones to which their words compare you and so you stand still and silent wrapping your own tucked-away accomplishments around yourself for protection. You will not be the one to run out on the first day of spring blind and underdressed, for your kookum grew through harsh winters that imprinted generational knowing deep into your bones.
You are a child, my child.
No matter how far you run, how many people you carve into for a momentary place of rest, you will always end up here, with this simple table and chair and a brown package of books that you will lose yourself in, laughing mildly when the last pages are turned and you’re forced to remember the rest.
But the yearning continues to haunt you in a way you don’t know how to answer, for you stopped answering questions like the loud boys who have been taught to be so sure, with conclusive tidy statements and sharp corners. You face the torment with more timidity. Not like the girls who gaze through foggy windows to the endless seas of their infinite dreams, but with a practiced patience, given to you through deep and incessant observation.
You remember watching wisdom once, as he sat in the backseat of the car beside you, listening to the stories of others, letting his own rest calmly on his tongue and you couldn’t help but wonder what his memories tasted like. How different they must be to your own- a jumble of reality and imagination.
You remembering watching wisdom once, as she shifted in her seat, agitated and trapped in the body that was doomed to fail from first breath. She became quieter with the years and more unbelievable with every word. For who believes an old woman kept away from everything she once knew dear?
Maybe this is why you have come to think that wisdom sounds like nothing at all.
You trail any sense of it, like a wolf who lost the herd during the hunt. You see glimpses of it, in those silent moments on the road with your father, in the forever glances you share with your mother and there, in the fullness of the memory of sitting in meditation on the cold concrete floor, with tears falling down your face.
You were visiting the land of your lolo and you didn’t hear her come, but when you opened your eyes, you saw a glass of water and a sampaguita placed gently by the hand of your only sister.
That might have been the closest and oldest you have ever been.
But peace will not greet you here, in this exact instance of shedding skin and shifting shape. When you have never been closer to yourself, alone and unafraid, in foreign territory. This incredibly disarming moment of metamorphosis, when old crone and young child merge in parallel reconstruction and all you can do is wait. Be patient.
You are a child, my child.