I.Long before the clop-clopping of hoovesecho from the sun-baked road,and the calesa drops off its passengerand her groom, there will have beena thousand chores completed.
The bride will arrive at her new homeand regally ascend to her forerunner’slegacy on narra steps and floorspolished to ebony shine, mirroringher long virginal skirt like lover’seyes lurid with desire.
And the dining table will not betrayone speck of dust—she could lick offher dinner straight from its top.And her dinner will be servedby an army of young servants,sneaking peeks for signsof approval or—Dios mio!—displeasure, as they learnto address her, Ima—mother.
II.Typhoid had robbed them of their bloodmother during the war that taught themtheir sculptor father was uselesswhen art served no purpose but vain hope,and beauty only attracted unwanted attention,and it was more important to learn howto bow low to the Hapon and say Hai!like you meant it, unless you craveda lusty beating, and how to carveout a living selling poor man’s mealsfrom the bodega of their house.
Everyone says how lucky they werefor a young lady to want to marrya man with seven children already.
III.The fourteen-year old eldest daughter resentsthe woman not much older than sheusurping her place as mistress of the house,can’t think of what more a man could wantbeyond a brood of obedient childrencatering to his needs. Doesn’t grasp thisuntil that night when he orders everyoneto bed early, and the house—thought to be dead all that time,rises and sleepwalks.
The daughter knows,for she heard it straight from the loose lipsof the heaving and groaning floors.
Philippine-born author and poet Victoria G. Smith’s first career was in law practice. After marriage to an American that led her to immigrate to the United States, she rediscovered and pursued a childhood passion: creative writing. Her early efforts won her first place in the 2004 (Fifth Annual) Ventura County Writers Club–Ventura Country Star national short story writing contest—the first time she’d entered a writing competition. Recent distinctions include the 2015 Driftless Unsolicited Novella Award for her novella, Faith Healer, and semifinalist for the 2015 Elixir Press Fiction Award for her story collection, Faith Healer and Other Stories. Her poetry and other literary work are published by, among others, Reed Magazine, The Greenwich Village Literary Review, The Earthbound Review, Elite Critiques Magazine, Ruminate Magazine, Westward Quarterly, The Earthen Lamp Journal, The Milo Review, Lyrical Iowa, and Dicta. Her essay, “Gatekeepers and Gatecrashers in Contemporary American Poetry: Reflections of a Filipino Immigrant Poet in the United States,” appears in Black Lawrence Press’s 2015 anthology, Others Will Enter the Gates: Immigrant Poets on Poetry, Influences, and Writing in America. Her first book of poems, Warrior Heart, Pilgrim Soul: An Immigrant’s Journey, was published in November 2013 to critical acclaim spearheaded by Kirkus Reviews. Later that same year, the Chicago Filipino Asian American Hall of Fame honored her with the Outstanding Writer Award. She writes a monthly poetry column for VIA Times Magazine. Smith attended the 2005 UCLA Asian American–N.V.M. Gonzales Writers Program and has been featured as an emerging writer in several print media and online articles. She is currently writing her first novel, Gabriela’s Eyes, and a second poetry collection, Mother of Exiles.
Updates on her literary work and author events may be found on her website, VictoriaGSmith.com.
BMP Celebrates National Poetry Month
If “love calls us to the things of this world,” then poetry too can call us to think about challenging questions, difficult situations, and social justice, implicating and engaging the reader with the world we live in, in the hope that this engagement is a step toward wrestling with our better selves.