Oy, you come sit down.
You eat now, okay?
We have fried chicken,
some sinigang bangus too.
Ai, look at you. Ang payat!
So skinny still! How old are
you now? 25, 26? Eat!
So young you are!
Got girlfriend yet? Why not?
You marry soon okay?
Have plenty of kids like me
and your tito. Children, they’re
heaven you know. At first
they’re hell but later they become
heaven. Ha ha. Your cousin Pam
like you. Still single that one.
Lenti, will never find husband that one.
Can’t even cook rice still!
Go off to college in Seattle,
wants to fall in love first before marriage.
What’s that mean?
Look at me. First time I meet your uncle,
I thought he ugly, pangit.
But I learn to love him the same.
Never in the places you look
but it will find you
If you let it.
And you have to let it.
Winter in Portland
for Gary Soto
Maybe I’m eight all over again, and instead of
trudging back to Goose Hollow in heavy
snowfall after a hard day of teaching,
I’m back in the P.I. On hot June days,
for merienda my brother and I
had halo-halo on Sangko’s back porch.
The Superfriend glasses all lined in a row.
“Akoy si Batman, ikaw si Robin!”
Each baso filled with red beans, ripe yellow
langka, and green candied coconut, finally
capped with a handful of ice and Pet Milk
bought from across the street at the palengke.
We would mix everything together,
feel our mouths burst with color and watch
the cold metal spoons fog up in the sunny air.
Then we’d ride our bikes on steamy streets
to throw rocks at the river miles from our house
until the twilight scent of sampagita told us
it was time to come in. After dinner,
Robert and I would spit cool watermelon seeds
on a white plate, talk about girls we liked,
and wonder if Superman invited everyone
for pandesal and Fanta at his Fortress of Solitude,
maybe he wouldn’t be so lonely as much.
Sometimes if we were really good, we got to lick
ube ice cream off sugared cones.
I was ignorant then of words like “blizzard” or
“cold snap.” I didn’t know yet where
Interstate 5 or Mt Hood were on a map
and didn’t want to until school started again.
For now, under a starry sky,
I just let the melting sorbetes
ooze down my fingers,
promising of more summer days to come.