Like a Stranger, April

I write to a friend whom I will never see in person, someone I’ve only met online. We are words and images flickering on a monitor, transmitting thoughts. It is an odd feeling knowing someone this way. Strangers who, in another time, would have walked past each other perhaps on a busy street or in the caverns of an airport. More likely we would never have met at all, submitting to the reality of living on either side of the world, sunrise and sunset forever chasing each other.

I tell this friend I am going back home. Home where my umbilical cord was cut. Where my feet first touched soil warm with the struggle of sun and rain, on land close to the band of heat that whips the planet. This friend has only known life in four seasons. Looking up to the heavens at night gives us some comfort – we become equally small and bound by the earth’s pull, beckoned by stars.

I tell my friend my worries. Time having pushed all family and friends to trajectories away from mine, we will be more like strangers than we dare admit. It will be like rebuilding a house on another plot of land – the same rooms perhaps, but not the same views out the door and windows. No, that’s not quite right. It will be more like a tent than a house. Sharing a temporary space, forced in a squeeze of time. We will be taking fragments from the past and try to make them fit some picture neither of us will fully recognize.

All will be over in less than three weeks. And I will step into a plane that will take me back to being a stranger to everyone. Again.

It is the reverse of homesickness.


About matangmanok

Jim Pascual Agustin writes and translates poetry. Sometimes he tries his hand at essays and stories. His latest book is BLOODRED DRAGONFLIES, published by Deep South in South Africa. Check out the official blog page for Bloodred Dragonflies. In 2011 the University of Santo Tomas Publishing House in Manila released BAHA-BAHAGDANG KARUPUKAN (poems in Filipino) and ALIEN TO ANY SKIN (poems in English). The same publisher released his most recent poetry collections SOUND BEFORE WATER and KALMOT NG PUSA SA TAGILIRAN. In 2015 a new poetry collection in English, A THOUSAND EYES was released. His first collection of short stories in Filipino, SANGA SA BASANG LUPA, was released in 2016. UK publisher The Onslaught Press launches his poetry collection, WINGS OF SMOKE, worldwide in February 2017. San Anselmo Publications released HOW TO MAKE A SALAGUBANG HELICOPTER & OTHER POEMS in 2019 followed by CROCODILES IN BELFAST & OTHER POEMS in 2020 - both books can be purchased through their Facebook page. View all posts by matangmanok

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