Elegy for Angelina

by Abner Dormiendo

She left us late September, just when
the sunflowers in her garden
are about to wither. I remembered childhood:
stealing grains from my parrot
and sneaking out in the midday sun
to her tiny front yard. I would bury a seed
and she would stand by it until sprouts
turn into buds; until heads
shed their yellow petals. Sometimes
she would trim the bougainvillea shrubs
that already clung to the electric wires
and I would pass by her house during mornings
where she would ceremoniously
burn the prunings. The earth was her chapel
and flowers were her religion.
She told my mother one evening
when her heart sang her to sleep,
she dreamed of a garden with flowers
she cannot name. We have a name for
that place: heaven. But we are not
to label sanctuaries. That morning
when the sunflowers have relinquished their crown
to their namesake, I raised a prayer
to every angel I can name: stand by her
like a gardener watches over a seed.
She appeared in white later that evening, with flowers
I never knew existed and orchids
with names I will never know. The bougainvillea shrub
has already bowed in condolences.
Sometimes she would send rains
when her husband forgets to water her flowers,
or winds when her sons forget
to prune the leaves. Sometimes
when the sky is overcast I pass by her front yard
and she is not there burning twigs. I remember
because I always forget: she has left. Somewhere
she is tending bigger gardens; and there,
names do not matter.

– for Nanay Hileng