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Showing posts from October, 2020

Lizards kiss the ground to pray

When we were children, my mother would tell us to be careful with the house lizards that we saw at home. They were good creatures, she would say, and at six in the evening they would come down from heaven to humbly kiss the ground and pray to God. I heard this story more than once because it was told to me and my older brother, and it would be told to the brother that came after me and then to the sister that came after all of us. The house lizard, with its fleshy body and skin so thin you could see its bones and pulsing organs; the house lizard, with its self-amputating, regenerating, tail; the house lizard, the holiest of God's animals, so good they have a place in heaven. When I was younger, I would often worry, "Does God want me to also kiss the ground at six o'clock to show my love?" Then, instead of shamefully saying "Yuck," I would counter, "But God made it easy for the lizards. Their head is so close to the ground." And so for a time, the l

What Agapito Flores gave to me

Fluorescence, like some other names for the phenomena of light, is one of my favorite words. I love that it sounds like the Spanish word for flower and it brings to mind an image of light in full bloom. "Which we perceive with our sense of sight," I would add when I was a child as a sort of fun mnemonic, tickled by my own wit. Like many from my generation, I grew up being taught about Filipino inventions. There was Agapito Flores and the moon buggy and, strangely, of all things, the rubber toilet plunger.  In Grade 5, a teacher called on me to answer what I felt was a very difficult question. Which of the following Filipino inventions, she asked, proved that Filipinos were a technologically advanced people? The fluorescent light, the moon buggy, the toilet plunger, the first two, or all of the above? How was I to know that in my teacher's opinion the understanding of modern plumbing and the application of suction and pressure did not constitute being technologically advan

'And still the scales balance'

The Weighing By Jane Hirshfield The heart’s reasons seen clearly, even the hardest will carry its whip-marks and sadness and must be forgiven. As the drought-starved eland forgives the drought-starved lion who finally takes her, enters willingly then the life she cannot refuse, and is lion, is fed, and does not remember the other. So few grains of happiness measured against all the dark and still the scales balance. The world asks of us only the strength we have and we give it. Then it asks more, and we give it.