Verse Exercises

A portfolio for her verses

Fisherman

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The base photo, before it was edited, was taken by my brother.

This is an archived and revised copy of a creative writing assignment.

My father was once a fisherman, my mother a housewife. This seems unreal from what I know of them, mother and father who love their work too much—mother always has some project analyses to do, father a proposal to write. Yet once, father was out at sea drawing nets while mother wiped the house clean of dust, tended the garden. The people that they once were belong to a memory outside my own; belong to the years when I and my sister were yet unborn.

In the years right after Martial Law when my parents were newly married, they arrived in a tiny island by pump boat and stayed there with my grandfather to be hidden away. I can almost make them out in my mind’s eye—father unbelievably thin carrying the bags, and seated beside him mother, her eyes haunted, my brother barely two holding on to her hand as the boat beached on the shore.

They had sensed heat from the military. Agents parked conspicuously outside their small rented apartment (for psych war, my parents tell me) in the city where my parents first met, in the city where we now live. There was trouble brewing in the movement then, too. The paranoia was getting out of hand. Talk of spies and double agents, tribunals, executions left and right. Some of their friends had begun to disappear.

When I look at fishermen in their boats I can almost see my father dipped in the sea straining with his toes for sea cucumbers burrowed in the sea floor, or hauling in the nets heavy with the day’s catch at the instruction of older, seasoned men. That man belongs to a different time in his life from the man whose legs shake from changing a light bulb, who screams leche! when he hammers and hits the nail of a finger and not the nail with a head.

Mother on the other hand has learned to smile and now looks younger than father in their middle age. But I wonder if she has learned to stop peeking behind curtains to look for a military spy. On days when father leaves for work to fight alongside farmers against landlessness, does she wish they were back on that island facing the Pacific where even the cat, Misay, ate white-meat tuna?

I cannot stop fishing. Casting stories in a sea of words, I reconstruct a family of three whose memories become my own, if I cast the line right.

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Written by thedoe

February 17, 2009 at 10:38 am

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