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I am haunted by roads
those I had danced with
on heavy tread
and carefree feet
on cruising rides
and breakneck speeds
a million times before

like sleepwalking my way home
along edges of places
faces of things
the highways and footpaths
paved towards destinations
I’ve repeatedly arrived at
and once-coveted states
of past minds
a mile at a time

certain bends and smooth turns
of Ikot jeepney routes, for instance,
under the indomitable acacias
the last few manicured blocks
before the stops of the Fort bus
the knotted bridges
and tunnels along historic EDSA,
the gnarled shadows of Dimasalang
punctuated by incongruously bright roses
a view of sooty, disheveled Taft
from up the train
and the steel and glass cradle
that is Ayala Avenue
adorned with little palms
and glitzy billboards

the abused roads
and the preoccupations that made me
blind to seeing what was around me then
taking for granted
those same flames of color
that gleam of once-ordinary light
that unspecial nick on the sun-faded wall

they come back,
like the flipping of old pages
perforations on my life’s
worn rolls of music
so known to the piano’s hammers and pins
so often caressed at the soul
so long ago

I’d enter the Dan Ryan
or emerge from a dimly lit car park
or idle to a pause
in a strange suburban intersection
and there it would be,
a patch of old road
the heart of a young me
becoming everything
until nothing else is real

and none of these places
this wanderlusting spirit now traverses
is ever new,
only the same music
and glimpses of what
had always been there,
waiting for me to notice.

“Eva” by photographer Alfredo Vallejo


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