The Guardians – A Poem

Among ancient giants

Along paths etched through pine needles

As hesitant fingers of mist wrap around me

I follow the curve and stop

At the unexpected whisper

Of two moss covered guards

Warning me not to disturb the peace

Image credit: Eric Muhr @ Unsplash
For the visually challenged reader, this image shows a forest scene with a path going deep into the forest. The trees at the distance are shrouded in mist.

Sadje’s What Do You See #74 offered this serene photo of a misty path winding through the forest – a perfect day for a peaceful hike! At least it’s peaceful to us – but what of the plants and animals who live there? Is it peaceful for them as we traipse through their home?

This poem was also inspired by Kate’s Friday Fun – Etching and Sgeoil at the Saturday Ragtag Daily Prompt – Unexpected. The mood of this poem was unexpected for me. I had thought of writing a poem of two people in love, walking through the woods and etching their initials into a tree. But after reading about the parts of a tree’s bark and how, after the protective outer layer that we see, the next layer (called phloem) is living conductive tissue that carries food throughout the tree, I got to thinking….

The romantic act of lovers carving initials into a tree is actually hurting the tree. While it may not immediately kill a tree, the carving will leave a tree open to infection and will result in a permanent scar. (For more information – read here and here.) How often do we do something that – intentionally or unintentionally – hurts another living thing?

Since the start of lockdowns due to the pandemic, the amount of carbon dioxide in the planet was reduced by 20%. That means that people staying home reduced the amount of air pollution in the world. While this dip may not be enough to offset overall global warming, it shows how significant an impact humans make in the world. (Jane’s Climate Change World Map has a great visual on this topic.)

This pandemic has etched a permanent scar on our collective human psyche. But what scars have we left on the world?

©️ 2021 iido

Growing Pain – A Tanka

Bright sun of your face

Hair flying free with laughter

Lunchtime playground fun

Replaced by eye rolls and sighs

The penumbra comes too soon

Image credit; Teslariu Mehai @ Unsplash
For the visually challenged reader, this image shows a person wearing a paper-bag over their head. Words ” Photo shop” are written by hand on the bag.

The word penumbra comes from the Bushboy’s Thursday RagTag Daily prompt. I had never heard that word before but the idea of a half shadow intrigued me.

On the other hand, this photo from Sadje’s What do you see #66 brought up a lot of emotions for me, the strongest of which was avoidance (hence my missing the deadline). It took me awhile to process why this was.

The paper bag of the woman’s head didn’t sit well with me. It made me think about all the ways that women are “covered” – how we cover our true selves or how other people try to cover us up. How might we “photoshop” what we want others to see when our true selves are hidden? I began to wonder what her face might be like under the bag – is her face blank? is she frowning? Is she smiling even though her smile can’t be seen?

This reminded me of those “awkward years” as a pre-teen, feeling embarrassed of “changes” and not feeling comfortable in my own skin. I probably would have hidden in a paper bag if I could. That was the time when I decided I wasn’t good at math (even though I was doing high school level math in junior high) – becoming “less than” I truly was. I wouldn’t find my whole self until much later in life.

And now I see my daughter entering that stage where she’s spending more time wearing her ear buds and the eye rolls outnumber the laughter. I try to remind her to stay true to who she is and not feel like she has to become “less than” for other people. Is this something all girls – women – go through? Or is it something that is part of human nature and growing up?

When does the bag go over our face and a penumbra covers our true selves? Or maybe the better question is why…

©️ 2021 iido

To My Stubborn Father from Your Stubborn Daughter – A Double Nonet Letter

Dearest Dad – You always stood your ground

With standards high above my reach

Standing on that moral hill

Cloistered rules, you would teach

I inhaled it all

Principled breath

Held belief

Until

Truth

Breathed

Knowledge

You don’t know

Of the “Other”

Exhaled, these old rules

No longer hold my views

I have climbed another hill

And stand on ground planted by you

With love and principles – Your Daughter

New life growing on top of the old. That’s not Groot – that’s the circle of life!

I love my Papa. I am his favorite daughter….OK, his only daughter….but I am also his favorite debating partner. My dad and I are similar in so many ways and this is probably why we debate/argue/quarrel more with each other than he does with my other siblings.

My dad always held high standards of morality, values and principles. He passed that on to me, although sometimes we look at these high standards from different sides. So we see things in a different way and approach problems/issues in a different way. Although if you look at the underlying values of these approaches and points of views, you would see that they are the same. You might even ask, why are we even arguing?

The fact is that despite our similarities, I am a different person than my dad. I’ve had experiences that my dad has not. Some of these experiences are because I grew up middle class in the USA while he grew up upper class in the Philippines. Other experiences are because he is a man and I am a woman. Still other experiences are because he was born and grew up in a different era than I did (almost a quarter of a century separates us).

I wrote this poem for two prompts: one was Punam’s Ragtag Daily Prompt for Saturday – Cloistered and the other was for Jamie’s Wednesday Writing Prompt to “write about a suffocating situation”. I will admit that when I was younger (especially in my teenage years), I did find my Papa’s rules “suffocating,” but as I grew up, and now have children of my own, I realize how those rules showed the depth of my Papa’s love.

Happy Belated Father’s Day, Papa! Here is some Key Lime Pie for you! I love you!

©️ 2020 iido

America – A Short Story

Looking out my back door, I tried to keep my breathing steady. It had been twenty-four hours since Mamá said goodbye. She had walked me to the school door instead of just dropping me off. She had given me an extra long hug and whispered, “Hay una sorpresa para ti, in your lunchbox,” before letting me go and walking quickly down the steps so she wouldn’t be late for work.

I had entered the school and didn’t give her another thought. Until she didn’t come home for dinner. And she wasn’t in the kitchen making arroz con chorizo on Saturday morning. And now it was Saturday evening.

I walked into the living room and picked up my cell phone. I tapped the “news” icon and watched the app launch. I saw it then, a picture of the factory where she worked. Mamá was coming out of the front door, flanked by two men in dark clothing, carrying guns, and wearing bullet proof vests that had the three scariest letters in the entire English language.

I-C-E

Mamá was still wearing the gloves she used for cleaning, her hair was mussed, the curly tendrils like a crown of ivy on her head. The headline said, “The first day of school turned into a nightmare after record immigration raids.” I sat on the couch, my heart rate increasing.

“No te preocupes,” Mamá would say when I whispered my fears to her. “Tengo fe in this nation.”

Mamá might have faith in this country, but I no longer did.

The photo above was taken by Patrick for his Pic and a Word Challenge #216 – America. I’ve also incorporated other prompts from this last week: Go Dog Go Cafe’s Tuesday Writing Prompt to use the word “ice” and the number “twenty four”; and the Ragtag Daily prompt for Saturday – Nation (Thank you, Punam!), Thursday – Looking out my back door and Wednesday – Goodbye.

This story is based on a true story of an immigration raid in Mississippi that occurred on the first day of school in 2019 – so it isn’t really “fiction”, hence the title. The children, of the immigrants who were taken, were not picked up from school and had no way of knowing what happened to their parents. I can only imagine the terror of those children – losing a parent is a big fear for any child. This incident also reminded me of the way the Jewish people were rounded up by the Nazis. Is this what America has become?

©️ 2020 iido

OctPoWriMo Day 11 – The Growing Roar

The door opens and the roar begins

Begins as a rustle of shoes and bags

Bags of paper, projects, words, numbers

Numbers counting down to bedtime, dinner time…not yet time

Time to play and release the joy

Joy of unencumbered growing

Growing louder under the tree shadows

Shadows of night whisper but the roar continues

Continues with the clanging of plates and the chomping of teeth

Teeth that when brushed, sparkle like dreams

Dreams transform the roar to a snore

Snore is as silent as it gets.

This loop poem was written for Patrick’s Pic to Word Challenge #203 – Play and for OctPoWriMo Day 11 – Silence. Also, for the Saturday RagTag Daily Prompt – Shadows.

Silence is something that I rarely get during the day especially once the children come home. But their voices – whether laughing, singing, talking, arguing, shouting – remind that they are fully alive in their playing, working, eating even when they are disagreeing. Noise has always reminded me of life – I know this stems from growing up in a large, Filipino family. So silence was something I had to learn to be ok with, learn to love and cherish. But I know that playful noise will also be my favorite.

©️ iido 2019