I Was Reading a Scientific Article by Margaret Atwood

Because a friend has mentioned Atwood and Horowitz, I bring out the beer stashed under my bed in case of emergencies. And this moment seems to be pressing, somewhere, something is breaking, inside my body. I put on George Bruch: Violin Concerto No.1 in G Minor, and then, this.

There is time to smoke, in a while. For now, a poem:

I Was Reading a Scientific Article
Margaret Atwood

They have photographed the brain
and here is the picture, it is full of
branches as I always suspected,

each time you arrive the electricity
of seeing you is a huge
tree lumbering through my skull, the roots waving.

It is an earth, its fibres wrap
things buried, your forgotten words
are graved in my head, an intricate

red blue and pink prehensile chemistry
veined like a leaf
network, or is it a seascape
with corals and shining tentacles.

I touch you, I am created in you
somewhere as a complex
filament of light

You rest on me and my shoulder holds

your heavy unbelievable
skull, crowded with radiant
suns, a new planet, the people
submerged in you, a lost civilization
I can never excavate:

my hands trace the contours of a total
universe, its different
colors, flowers, its undiscovered
animals, violent or serene

its other air
its claws

its paradise rivers

***

In my Market Research class, we were tasked to conduct personal interviews all over Manila about the latest ad campaign for Coke. A lot of them don’t remember anything now. A lot of them don’t even drink it now.

The tea phenomenon is invading the metro. They say, We have to keep the body clean. Detoxify. Keep healthy. Here: it is a temple, where your blood runs like a peaceful river. Like Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata on a sad night with no rain. This is how quiet the body can be.

I just took my can of beer and emptied it onto the bathroom sink. I put some water to boil, brought out a packet of dried leaves, smelling jasmine, the only thing I’ll find around this house now. I’ve read somewhere that Longjing is a famous Chinese tea. It stands for Dragon Well. Yun Wu is for Cloud and Mist. Chun Mee means precious eyebrows.

It’s a known fact that drinking tea can be good for the body, especially the heart.

***

Chopin pitter-patters with Nocturne. I tiptoed around the kitchen trying not to make any noise. Everyone else is asleep; there’s no one to stay up for, no one to think about at this time.

His birthday in two days.

***

Teacup in hand, I return to my room to find Bach’s Air playing. Ah, but what else can I do but sit in the corner of my room, by the floor. Then, Franz Schubert casually slips into Unfinished Symphony No. 8. I now feel archaic. Time-worn. Passé. I think I sleep somewhere between forgotten and vanished.

From Selected Poems (1965-1975) by Margaret Atwood, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1987.

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