Eileen R. Tabios

(a novella-in-prose poems)

Chapter 13

Someone thought: Many wish to be born anew during their lifetimes. Age can increase the number of times the wish surfaces. Youth is wasted on the young, as sages have noted, and would it not be nice to embark on a second lifetime with the wisdom from the first? (Sometimes, we are so exhausted we want to fold ourselves into into the artificial, the imaginary, or the futile.) Mythmakers consider reality’s bow to fate as harmony. Fate refers to one’s fair portion in life and destiny. But its concept is rooted in war: fate initially referred to one’s equitable allotment of loot from battle—call it “battle swag.” To exceed one’s fair allocation was a violation in some gatekeeper’s “natural order.” Wars so often determine fate, making it injustice unless one believed all losers deserved their loss. Whose fate becomes warring against fate? Those who discerned when harmony is an illusion deserve our gratitude for such discernment is hard-earned. Beyond the Moirai’s distaff, spindle, and scissors, the cut thread floats in the wind. Where it lands cannot be predicted or controlled. It might land on a judge’s scale or a sword’s tilted blade or keep floating until, away from witnesses, it burns from the noonday sun’s unadulterated stare. Still, it’s futile to fear the world.

Chapter 14

Someone thought: To avoid getting mired in a vacuum created by unrelated contexts, cite subjectivity. Here, a man falls on his knees before opening a light blue jewelry box to present a sapphire ring encircled by diamonds. There, an old fisherman laughs at the novelist seeking to trap his life in words. Further there, a sniper misses an arm and hits the heart for an inadvertent kill. Behind all sightings, the witness slurps spaghetti. By laying down her fork to dab a napkin at her chin, previous contexts are dismissed, and the witness moves on to the next story without completing the prior. From such random threads, a rope manages to braid itself to become Rapunzel’s solution for leaving her tower. A few pages later, Rapunzel rewards the reader by sharing, “I am now happy.” Her simple statement is a reminder: like how the new mother who’d labored for 36 hours forgets all pain at the sight of her new baby, joy can source redemption. All changes change the world. Subjectivity can be a puzzle solved by joy. Or, if it remains unsolved, the genius’ or simpleton’s acceptance retains the world on its necessary axis.

Chapter 15

Someone thought: It’s a dream with the slogan “Explore with Perseverance.” The exclamation point was invisible but clearly implied. Reticence contains its own effectiveness. It’s a dream and it’s to explore Mars instead of staying on Earth where too many dreams are wantonly decimated. It’s a dream and the proudly self-described “Martian” engineers send vehicles, helicopters, and drones looking like oversized metal insects to explore a planet-sized ruby rock. It’s a dream and hopes are high for finding evidence of past lives. It’s a dream for a future by reaching for a past. It’s a dream and it’s a return to the past without which no present and future are possible. It’s a dream of birds who release seeds from their beaks in anticipation of future raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries. It’s a dream of transformation for which the past cannot be avoided. It’s a dream that turned the parasitic and poisonous mistletoe into a halo for kissing lovers at Christmas. Words occasionally turn me into water. Where, exactly, have we always been walking to? We should all learn the Klingon language because all knowledge should be equal. Begin again by adding a word to your vocabulary: “vemödalen” as “the frustration of photographing something amazing when thousands of identical photos exist.”

Chapter 16

Someone thought: No one aims to become the wrong person. But many do. Don’t blame the wind, bees, flies, hummingbirds, and moths who create natural hybridization—the result encourages genetic diversity and stronger adaptation of their environments. Yet unnecessary hybridization also abounds—to be human is to be flawed. Or discontented. The fate of too many are determined by what’s unnecessary. These contrived outcomes could be unhealthy, lack vigor, suffer from sterility, and bear shorter life spans due to their delicacy. Listen to flowers whose lessons are too often ignored. Here’s one offered by Stargazer lilies whose dark pink petals and orange pollen exuberantly exude spicy, sensual aromas as they stretch under moonlight: Be true to yourself. The advice comes with a postscript: It only takes one action to unravel an entire universe. Sometimes, the most significant meaning lies in afterthoughts.

Chapter 17

Someone thought: What is inevitable is not the same as what is fair. Fate can be unfair for being unending. But fate also can create its own demise. So many have lost themselves in the Namib Desert in its 100 million years of existence. Sand skyscrapers abound. Dunes stretch high to top 300 meters. His face was as rough as the grit surrounding him with the color of café au lait. He arrived where dry Namib winds and the Atlantic’s Benguela current formed dense fogs that provide the terrain with water. But deserts unfolded elsewhere, as in the hearts of humans abused by others and those who would save them—the former infects the latter. He was the former and became the latter. All his life, he inhaled grit. All his days were besieged. He will fulfill a prophecy that poets turned into a cliché as a last gasping protest against injustice: for Fairness, he will draw a line in the sand. At fate, he snorted out the obscene version of “I judge you as irrelevant.”

Chapter 18

Someone thought: Cobalt edges whatever is the color for yearning. While found in outer space, cobalt on earth can exist only when chemically combined. Combinations expand the definition of beauty, but its subjects are less stable for relying on something beyond itself. You woke one morning mourning and realized you’d spent each day setting aside an experience that you won’t reveal to anyone but God. That’s a sentence that bespeaks a life of consistent anguish from constantly swallowing secrets. That’s a sentence that’s a sentence. Nor can you guarantee you will be comforted by God since, even if God existed, you might have disgusted God with your claiming the divine as an excuse for cowardice. The history of humanity is one of irony: humans blaming or giving credit to gods they themselves created. No wonder humans find it easy to hide. Many will say there are good reasons to curve one’s spine, to bow one’s head, to shut one’s eyes—but cowards are prone to lacking self-awareness: often, cowards deny their cowardice. It’s irritating to witness someone deny something they are transparently practicing. But that’s me: I am not God. The true God can be benevolent, and God spoke the other day. God instructed us not to assume any of us contains something of interest or relevance to say (and God’s the benevolent One!). Feel free to remain asleep: no one will miss you except—if you’ve had the fortune to have them—a lover, a doting father, or an impassioned mother. People can be saved by compelling someone to fall in love with them. Such lack of capitalism is love’s greatest weakness but also strength: the valueless becomes transformed to the valuable. Tell such to God and God might frown or (paradoxically) laugh, but ultimately nod in agreement since God created “opia,” a new word in your vocabulary that means “the ambiguous intensity of looking someone in the eye, which can feel simultaneously invasive and vulnerable.”

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