"My Grandmother's Language"

May 17, 2009

I never knew her—

My grandmother.

Strange, considering,

I'd visit her

In the Philippines

Ev'ry summer.

The melody of


Would break my slumber.

She, however,

Awoke regardless—

Hers had been broken

A large number.

It seemed as though I,

Was not alone,

In fear of the dark.

For every time

The sun would hide,

Our compound would be,

So quiet, that

I could hear the hushed

Voices of sleep-

less sons, down the street.

This stillness would be


By my grandmother,

And no other.

An unnatural light

Would pierce the dark,

As the nurse would try

To cease her cough.

No words, just coughing—

That was the language she spoke.

I didn't understand,

I couldn't.

I was lost in translation,

With no desire to learn.

Yet, the coughing spoke to me—

In ways without words.

It would

Break her sleep—

Make her weak—

Consume her.

As I drowned in tears,

She drowned in drugs—

With the intention

To quiet the

Cough of my Nanay.

But, how did I know,

That her coughing

Would only be stilled

When Nanay was no more?