To Father

This morning,
As the clouds move soundlessly across the sky
I stand up to honor your constancy
Ground of my existence.

In my belly, father lives
Through him, the patriarchs speak.
They utter, wordlessly of the constancy
Engraved on the faces of the Buddhas
Benediction in a palm upstretched.

     I see you.
     You are my daughter.

Your art, your shapes,
Transformed from your clay
Shaped with your hands
Bringer of marvels, of wonders.

In my belly, father lives
The ground of my being.
He breathes, fire dragon of my soul
You sacrificed your spirit
On the altar of our lives.

     I see you.
     You are my daughter.

You hung an eye to ward off evil
Adorned the walls with muses
To inspire new longings
Let in the spirit of adventure.

In my belly, father lives
Bounty flowing from your days
Seeping into my sinews and marrow
Circles of molten gold rippling
With warm devotion, with love.

     I see you.
     You are my daughter.


To Mother

This is to celebrate your capable hands
From where– designing and sewing
Came Sunday clothes of frills and petticoats
Pastel patchwork blankets that cover my childhood.

Whose hands, forever busy
From where– cooking and baking
Came lemon pies and chocolate cakes
To celebrate the birth of each child.

This is to celebrate all of you—
Your hands, a fountain of creation
Your heart, from whose depths
Flowed so much bounty, much life.

With hands as wide as the sky’s embrace
Heart-strong and large enough to fill
The veins of the sweep and reach.

So many pinpricks
As you patch works of spare beauties
From the scraps and mountains
Of dresses made, skirts mended, hemlines sewn.

Mother goddess, shepherdess of all
Herding her brood with so much giving
Giving it all, with open hands
Bled dry and bone aching, bone dry.

And still this endless giving
This daily round of making and giving…
Labor over a hot stove
From recipes well-worn from much use.

Things you knew by heart
How to make the patterns
How to stretch the meals
How to greet each one, each day.

Through it all, so gay, so gay
Keeping worries out of sight
She pours them into prayers
That only her god knew.

Mother’s hopes, mother’s wishes
Mother’s despairs, mother’s loves
Glimpsed from time to time.
For mother, she is always there.

She is always here
As large, looming large as time itself.

Elena Esteva and Benjamin Lagdameo

April 9, 2024 is the 79th wedding anniversary of Benjamin Lagdameo and Elena Esteva, my parents, parents of nine children who remember them fondly and lovingly. For, while they are in another time and space, their presence is felt through what they had wrought within us and around us when they were with us in the here and now. Father, who was a banker who could make artful ceramics. Mother, who was a homemaker who could make hand-sewn creations.