Snow falls outside
I watch from behind a window
sheltering me inside a house
sealed shut like a vaccum.

Hard it is to believe
that once upon a time
I lived in a house
where polka dot sunbeams
filtered through rusted tin roof
from where rainwater dripped
straight to a cooking pot
set on a cracked cement floor.

Through the capiz windows
entered the breeze
and neighbor’s voices
that played like radio soap
I could not turn off.
Cement block walls
had not so decorative holes
letting eyes in
our own thoughts out
to a world where no secret
was ever left unknown.

My shod feet are cold
on our wooden floor
a welcome relief in the days of old
when the afternoon air sizzled
and we pretended to sleep
on our well-worn mat
to avoid the man who went about
putting children’s head in a sack
to strengthen a bridge somewhere
always about to collapse.

my children’s laughter rang
as they played in the snow
too far removed
from that time long ago
when near barefoot children ran
through newly-plowed fields
chasing some childhood fun
when this frozen world
was but an imaginary land.


I wrote this for DVERSE Poets‘ Meeting the Bar  which  urged one to mine the memory.

11 thoughts on “ONCE

  1. There are some great images in this. It leaves me wondering about the man who goes around putting kids’ head in a bag. Huh? That is one scary memory. Way back when, there was the ice man and the rag man. Freaked me out.

  2. interesting…worlds apart the world we grew up in and the one our kids do…barefoot is def the best…smiles…we never wore shoes back in the day….what the heck on the bag man…

    1. 🙂 ha..that man was our own version of the bogeyman, a story that our elders spread around until he was so real to us children that the mere mention of him – mamumugot, in our language, terrified us and kept us indoors which was what our parents wanted in the first place.

  3. Beautifully visual piece, and you’ve used some great verbs. like the afternoon air sizzled. Love the polka dot sunbeams, too. Did the memory take place in the Phillipines? And what’s with the bag man? Yikes! Excellent piece, as I’ve come to expect.

    1. Thank you, Diane. The memories were from my childhood in the Philippines. We had a little house then with tiny holes in the roof, and rough walls.
      The bag man was known to us as Mamumugot, the Filipino bogey man. He terrified us children so much so that he was often the subject of our recess and lunch time conversations at school. It was a fear that our parents exploited quite well to keep us indoors, especially at nap time. 🙂

  4. …Imelda this is full of missing… almost like a story telling mum would often crack to us before we sleep… the supertitious beliefs you incorporated here truly feels like home in old days… running barefoot in the ricefields is what i’m missing the most as a child… ah, those were the times… lovely memories… smiles…

  5. I feel both sad and hopeful reading this: sad that I can relate to this sort of memory, making me feel very old, and hopeful that our children have a totally different experience of childhood, a much better one at that. Thank you for sharing this.

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