Gemino Abad

(05 February 1939 / Cebu / Philippines)

Care Of Light - Poem by Gemino Abad

As soon as it gets dark, I turn on the lights

in my old professor’s cottage, and the following

morning before office, turn them off again.

With one key I open the iron gate, and with two,

the main door. I turn the lamp on in her library,

the vigil light for the Sacred Heart on the shelf

jutting out a wall; then I switch on the single

electric bulb outside the kitchen, and last,

the red and green halogen like Christmas lights

below the front eaves.

I follow strictly her instructions.

She loves order in her life, and requires

a similar order in other people’s behavior –

a discipline of mind sometimes terrorized

by the haps and hazards of thieving time.

She needs to be always in control,

but she’s old now and frail, can hardly walk,

deaf and half-blind, and often ill, so that,

having no choice, no housemaid able to endure

her sense for order, she had to leave

and stay at her sister’s place,

finally dependent.

In the half-darkness and mustiness now

of her deserted cottage, all its windows closed,

her books and papers, once alive with breath

of her impetuous quests, are filmed with dust

on her long working table, awaiting it seems

her return.

I think of how a time ago

she’d walk briskly to her early morning class,

dressed in style to shame old maids; then call

our names as though each had irreplaceable

post in her invincible order of things;

and then, her shoulders hunched, teach

with a passion that, before the imperious gale

of her questioning, drove us bleating

on the open plain of the world’s sharp winds.

So; at the day’s end,

I’m her lamplighter on her silent asteroid,

among books, papers, rubble of chalk.

I close the gate behind me as I stride out,

making sure I hear the lock’s tiny click.

I follow strictly her instructions.

Down her street the street lamps cast

my shadow ahead. Crickets in the bushes

whirr according to their nature.

In the same order, the sun too will rise

tomorrow, and I shall be back.


Poet's Notes about The Poem

Taken from the book of 'Care of Light'.

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Poem Submitted: Monday, May 14, 2012



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