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This moon has a scent
black and pungent
a small crack
surrounded in smoke.
It slashes at your door
when the lights are
gone, and demands
a daughter. She
bargained herself for
her small sister’s
stead (did the little
girl see what her sister
did not?) while we’ve
locked into ourselves.
Some of us inside
steel walls shaped
with severed bottles
behind flimsy padlocks
securing pieces of
Father sleeps two
hours broken while
mother and daughter
watch. Mother sleeps
two hours while
father sits silent
the whole night
watching this moon
listening the street
sounds of dogs
and in the morning
stories from the
creep among us.
All we pray
so too this
On Monday as 9 year old Jerry and I walked into a neighbouring purok to invite some kids to his birthday party, an old lady I know came shrieking down a dirt road.
“Patay! Patay!” (dead! dead!) she cried, her hand raised as she motioned like a throat being cut. Someone had just been murdered in their home, the third in just one month.
“Careful Ma’am! Careful Ma’am!” her voice panicked. A group of women gathered.
Violent crime in Estancia has escalated in the past year but since I arrived back here from Australia less than two weeks ago the people are afraid like I have not before seen. They’re especially afraid because it’s not political crimes that target those with ‘connections‘ but seemingly random acts affecting regular people (people like you and me) who catch fish, grow vegetables or have a small store.
They tell of men in masks at front doors raping women and girls or scaling walls and killing folks in their beds. They tell of stabbings at market, tricycles burned, houses robbed and guard dogs poisoned. And not in the next town: it’s two doors down, it’s the place where we buy fish and vegetables it’s across the road and it’s like some crazy movie that is really happening.
“Don’t open your door at night, don’t go out after dark, lock everything and leave the lights on.” my landlord told me yesterday after explaining the horror that a 17 year old girl endured to save her 13 year old sister.
And now here am I (while little Jerry sleeps) trying to reconcile this place where we live. It’s a place, you live here. You buy food, you cook, you eat, you take your kid to school, you have birthday parties, you have friends and you try not to fall into a place where fear dictates and controls. You try to say little so you don’t worry your parents or feel like you’re preaching or bringing everyone into negativity and darkness. And I guess the only way I can cope and continue really is to write. And write. And write.
Oh it would be wonderful to still be posting a quiet Australian life on lonely beaches, flowers and the bright songs of birds and so, so easy to take the bus to the city and get on a plane and never come back. But what about the people who can’t? My people here. What about Jerry?
And I read international headlines and polls and posts about locking doors and keeping people out. About people with power and privilege who abandon the weak. And I feel angry. I feel disgusted. I feel ashamed especially at this lack of compassion in our Australian government, in our Australian state. This unwillingness to share wealth. This fear of foreigners (humans from another country) who want only a safe place to live. I want a safe place to live. Regular folk who imagine a quiet life on lonley beaches, flowers and bright songs of birds who can’t take a bus or get on a plane. Who can only buy a cheap padlock and wrap it around the bamboo frame that surrounds their children and pray to God for a new moon.
Estancia, (Iloilo) Philippines
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How terrifying. I had no idea. Thank you for speaking the truth and sharing this. I find myself longing to know how we could help
Thank you Naomi, just by reading you are already contributing to a higher state of compassion and empathy.
Also I just found your wonderful blog and I love all the impressionist and post impressionist art . When I get some time later tonight I’m gonna listen to one of your journals.
Mel, thank you so much for telling me that the witnessing with compassion does help. Tenderness to you and all experiencing this time. Thank you for making it visible with love and truth ❤️
PS I hope your blog and this topic gets a mention in WPDiscover challenge write up this week. I want all hearts to hear what’s happening
Fabulous and moving combo, Melinda, art/poetry/prose <3 . I wish you and yours well and hope you are safe. When I lived in South America there was a lot of crime, I witnessed it and was almost a victim when someone mistook my glasses case for a wallet. But I always felt safe because it wasn't senseless, it wasn't about hate. It was pragmatism, the poor trying to survive by stealing what they could. What you describe is terrifying.
Thanks for taking the time to read and respond. The place where I am staying is a rural/fishing community on the corner of an island at either end the end of the bus runs: isolated and off the international tourist scene. It’s a surreal but we are doing ok, I’m trying to shield the little boy as much as possible but the neighbours talk and he is quite frightened at night. At least I never have writer’s block these days 🙂
uf! I’m frighten. I understand you. I will pray for you, Jerry and all people who feel this frighten in the world.