WE THE INTERWOVEN

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MI ÚLTIMO ADIÓS

MELISSA PALMA

 
 

Speak, anak
Of unsung heroines
Whose compassion imbued Pampanga’s fertile riverbanks

Fleeing the Japanese War and the Marcos Regime
To Hacienda Florencia, whose stewards will forevermore
Profess symbols of love and devotion

Speak, Hesukristo,
And share the legacy of inheritance

The seasons passed, and the time came
For Libertad to offer the novena prayers
With dear mga pamangkin surrounding her
As she, her daughter, and her granddaughter were sent forth

Traversing oceans and prairies, 
Becoming diaspora,
Until she too relinquished her own native land

There her daughter tended to the Americans,
In the heartland of the country without name
Now an Overseas Filipino Worker, curator of remittances,
No longer doktora, there she remained, losing her accent

And the granddaughter
Matriculated in the halls of the patina campus, 
Where the Defining American was speaking
Of countless souls, in legacy
Colonialism had silenced
To their implied inquiry
“We are here because you were there”

Speak, Ate
She voices but a lick of the mother tongue
Yet prattles on like a conquistador

When she came of age and coveted her heritage, the
Parting words of Rizal resounded, 
“¡Adiós, Patria adorada, región del sol querida,
Perla del mar de oriente, nuestro perdido Edén!”

But the Castilian farewell meant nothing to ang pamilya

Bahala na
Hindi ko po alam

 

 Melissa Palma is an Iowa-raised daughter of Filipino immigrants. She was privileged to grow up in a multigenerational household with her grandparents, parents, and little sister in Waterloo, Iowa.