Isa X Prince

I lived in a house
on a hill in the middle of the city
with a gray facade no one ever notices.
Worn out posters held the walls together
of sweet tongued men whose invocation
of their line to the Prophet takes place
only once every three Ramadans.

A photograph hanged on the wall separating
the kitchen from the bedroom:

a young boy and his mother
standing on the edge of PC Hill against a bougainvillea
preventing them from slipping down the highway
that divides the ancient rock and the ravine of Dapdap.

I counted the days making friends of passersby
and ice cream vendors who gave momentary relief,
the sticky sweetness quickly disappearing in the midday sun
leaving only a cone of emptiness.

And when night fell
returning like barn swallows to their nest
mother and I sat on a rickety bench
two bodies bearing the same solitude.
No words were spoken of our scars
and the burden of centuries.

When the appointed time came
we migrated to yet another city
leaving only a trail of dusty lines and cobwebs from
where a scotch tape once held our photograph.
There were no histories to be left behind.

She would say: Do not be plagued by
the weight of memory. Don’t look back.
Everything should fit in the palm of your hand
like the old, dependable iPhone 3 in her pocket
that captured time that was afforded to us.

Isa X Prince is a 22-year-old aspiring writer who was raised in many cities around the Philippines by a single mother, a Christian woman of Negrense-Manobo-Spanish roots, who sold chorizo, longganisa, bulad, life insurance, knockoff antiques and vintage items, and encyclopedias. She showered him with books and told him tales of Maria Labo, aswang and the macabre at night to divert his attention whenever he asked about his father, a Maguindanaon, whom she met only once in a bar during her college years.