Image: “Lucid Dreaming” by Katrina Pallon, oil on canvas, 2017
I dreamt of my great-great-great-grandmother a few nights ago.
She came to me, after thinking of her womb
to great-great-grandmother’s womb
to great-grandmother’s womb
to Lola’s womb
to Ma’s womb
to my womb.
She had a shapely body
shrouded by a pale blue flimsy duster,
worn around the house
to cook, clean, and feed the babies,
and had sex many, many times,
many unwanted times.
How did she not go mad?
Maybe she did.
How many women are saved from madness
and how many are still mad?
Born sometime around 1855,
her mother had been born sometime around 1835,
when women had babies young
and oftentimes died young
as they had babies young,
too many babies,
until their bodies broke under the weight.
I see my great-great-great-grandmother 5 wombs back, unrolling
o p e n,
the way a fern unfurls a young frond,
the way her womb unrolls
all the way down
Hard to imagine such a woman.
that must have racked her brain every night
for the things she was not allowed
like school, birth control,
marry who she wanted to marry.
I dreamt she liked the color red.
Her plaid red Maria Clara dress
with big butterfly sleeves and a plain gray apron,
only worn on special occasions
when women still dressed up for merienda,
wooed in their Maria Clara dresses,
and not wear jeans, a tank top, and flip-flops,
like her great-great-great-granddaughters do.
Would she scold us for wearing jeans,
and not knowing each other at all?
We wear jeans and
we don’t know each other at all.
We read and write.
We use birth control.
We have sex with whomever we want
We still go mad, sometimes,
but not every night.
Some of us still face rape and violence and fear
(in the Philippines, the United States, Saudi Arabia,
Some of us are poets.
Some of us are bar girls.
Some of us are teachers.
Some of us are engineers for weapons of mass destruction.
We have exceeded her hopes
in adopting the professions of men
none of us even know her name.
She is who I’ve been dreaming of lately,
and I’m wondering if she ever dreamt of me.