Sunday, May 17, 2009

अंकल अल TwentyOne

First generation farmers
Fresh off of the boat
Growing broccoli near Walnut Grove
Growing traditions whose time is now
A roadside stand, paint faded and peeling
Boarded up since 1975
The stories you could tell
If only boards and penny nails could talk
Your would speak of countless supper times
As the sun set across your harvest fields
As day turns to twilight
Twilight unto darkness
At your supper table, laughter
Stories passed like freshly sliced bread
Stories told like bowls of rice
Passed between father and son
Mother to daughter
Traditions are shared
The wisdom of your Manong echoes
Down empty halls in a forgotten family house
Whose family gathering were captured on film
Memories caught in stop motion chants
Chants of ancestors etched in walls
Walls of paint trap a melting pot of scents
Portrait of a roadside stand

Now culture clashes in strip mall miles
Tradition of value now paved and gone
Gone the way of time passed by and lost
Like a blur of road signs on Route 66
Yet within the concrete mile

Within the small cracks of a look-a-like America
There grows a weed
The weed of resistance
The weed of tradition
Forever hard to Kill
A weed whose flowers bloom both change
And tradition
Born from a roadside stand in Walnut Grove
This weed of tradition
Spread it's root across the cracks
Fracturing with a subtle, brutal force
Reminding us of what we were
What we are
What we'll become

Ghosts of the roadside stand
Talk story, big soup, a Lugao of remembrance
Of times forgotten around chrome kitchenettes
Formica tables of red and green
Silk robes of a thousand colors
The rose petal scent of grandma's skin
Her kind smile and stories of home
The real home a million miles away
Of working the fields, hands blistered and bare
Of weak harvests the bruised the soul
Of winters so cold that the fires turned to ice
Stories told with the wink of her eye
Uncles stories of the great wars
Fought in the name of another fate
Stories now gone
Left along a roadside stand in Walnut Grove

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