October 31, 2009
The Ramshackle Garden
I remember your bougainvilleas bloomed
their hottest pinks and most vivid yellows
the morning after your funeral.
Their brightness made me sad.
Then the white butterflies came, flitting
tiny wings around the sunset orange ilima flowers.
The red ants joined in, their abdomens plump
marching around the dirt scattered
under the arms of the juicy aloe plants.
Was that the fat green lizard sunning himself lazy
among the stephanotis vines climbing
and curling with the bitter melon leaves,
its tendrils twined around dangling fruit, oval and bumpy.
The lizard looked at me as only unblinking reptiles can.
The regal cardinal, splash of red at her throat
Lands gingerly on a single overripe papaya,
the delicious yellow hanging on
to its shriveled stem for dear life
ready to drop at any moment, offering
a feast for the insect life below
covered with rotten leaves,
sustenance for the damp soil.
When the Purple Settles
When the purple settles like dull eggplant
Skin on the left side of your face
Over a patch of yellow just below
The cheekbone, where he hit you, hard
Yesterday, underneath the hints of red,
You say it’s better now, it’s only bruises.
For when the purple settles, I give you
Ginger root, its sharp, hot bite overpowering
Your throat oozing its juice, strong and familiar
For motion sickness and blood clots.
You close your eyes and you are home.
And when the purple settles, I give you garlic tears
Smashed into a poultice and pressed into the battle wounds
Of World War I soldiers who, treated in the trenches
Are like you, fighting infection.
And you, for when your rage cuts and bleeds,
Crush the green and white flowers of the onion plant.
Drag and rub them into the exposed demon
Until it becomes a childhood scar.
And when you are quick to offer promises
Deep and true, you pluck ampalaya, its bitter
Seeds honeyed with your hope, its fierce
aftertaste presented as earnest affection.
Why do you stay, they whisper, they who imagine
What darkness keeps you, as if by lightning struck
Held against its tethered axis.
Why so full of anger, they ask, they who imagine
Your purple wrath, crouched, threatened by
Anything stronger than you.
Amalia Bueno was born in Manila, Philippines and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii. She received a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from the University of Hawaii and is currently president of Bueno MediaWorks, a publicity consulting firm. An emerging creative writer, Amalia’s poetry and prose has appeared in various publications and anthologies. Her personal and professional interests include work and family issues, cultural and political activism, and children of incarcerated parents. She is currently working on a poetry collection and is pursuing a graduate degree in creative writing.