The Change Giver

THE CHANGE GIVER

The Change-giver drops four pisos
into my hand
swivels hips sideways
calls out the next stop

Ortigaaaaaaaaaaaaaas

one hand worrying the frayed edge
of a trouser pocket
switching back and forth
coin against the railing

one click means stop
two clicks go
sige dire-diretso hangang sa dulo

The Change-giver paces the small spaces
from Q-mart to Quezon Ave.
feet collecting strips of sun like geckos’ tongues
calling their rattling call in the night

The Change-giver paces the small spaces
between engine-floor to back door
gliding between aisles of torn Salita pages
spit and celphone cards

towel moistens the temple’s soft skin

the clutch gives
rocking wheels
into forward motion

The Change-giver has seen
four-hundred twenty-eight pisos
cross the pockets aisles and fingernails

seen three times already
the slow opening of gates
at city hall

seen the boarding and slipping off
of passengers before dawn

seen the slow crunch of taxis
jeeps and tricycles loosen
into steam-filled streets

moving in one flip
in one toss
the tickets fanned to the blanket of precision

holding in one fist
the day’s slowly burning silence

One-click two-click one-click two
in a flash five centuries of stop and go
five centuries of letting go
five centuries of circling a foreign architect’s dream
of agreement

One-click two-click one-click two
the signals of memory smoking through the sheen
of metal and coin
finger and cloth

One-click two-click one-click two
the stuttering accent of hybrid languages
smoothed to silence
carved from roughness

One-click two-click one-click two
we stop we listen
our tongues
our mouths
our eyes
our hands

the sun clears the billboard on EDSA
fills the window with light

the Change-giver is braced between seats
turning coins into dreams

 

From the chapbook, The Change Giver (Rosela Press, 2003)

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