Across Benguet fields,
I watch Kababayan pass by,
watch tall blades of grass blend into
a sea of undulating green
with a backdrop of mountains.
I hungrily consume
glimpses of random lives
running in a field where a big brother
holds his little sister’s hand
and their carabao trails behind.
I refuse to sleep during the long drive
from Baguio to Manila,
force my drooping eyes open,
afraid to miss those random lives
running sari-saris. I wonder
what they sell, for how long and for how much.
I watch lean brown male bodies
on basketball courts in their tsinelas,
observed from a window
in an untouchable luxury bus.
You do not know I am watching you.
You do not know where I am from.
On the way home across the Bay Bridge
after a long day at work, I feel the
numbness behind my eyes,
not marveling at West Oakland vacant streets
nearly bled of life as beat-up cars
slowly zigzag through rows
of old Victorians woven into the ghetto grid.
I’d rather bury my imagination in a book
than trace faceless pedestrians
whom I catch like fading apparitions
under the evening sun.
There must be beauty in every moment,
but with the everyday, the eyes
surrender to what it perceives
as the mundane when magic
is there to be seen.