Islander in the City by Pablo A. Tariman:

COUSIN

My cousin Delia Tariman Quintal: she moved on last Dec. 17, 2021.

(For my cousin Delia Tariman-Quintal)

 

You don’t know

What sorrow is

Until you feel the anguish

Of a cousin fighting for her life.

 

The last time I saw her

I rushed to her place

After checking in

The island airport

With half an hour left

After I returned the island piano

To a nearby hospital

After an island concert.

 

She was in tears

After losing a husband

She had loved

All throughout her married life.

 

We shared

A formidable island life

Running through the sand

A picnic around the coastal islet

And fetching drinking water

In a nearby spring

Below a mountain range.

 

To be helpless

When she needed quick relief;

I remember staring at her

Disconsolate

As I shared her grief

For a few moments

Pining for happy days

With her late husband.

 

Later

She reminded me,

‘Go back to airport

You might miss your flight.’

That’s how small the island is

Because you can still go

And quickly see

Your loved ones

Before the plane

Goes back to the big city.

 

I don’t know

What to say

Pondering her fate

As she struggles

To hang on to earthly life.

 

To be sure

We have shared a good deal

Of island life.

We have shared storms

Floods and landslides

And tidal waves.

You figure out her fate

As you contemplate your own.

 

True

Our generation is quickly

Passing by

As I recall how our parents

Left us one after the other.

 

When our time is up

I remember that dike by the sea

The school by the sea

Paddling a fishing boat

With my late departed

Then very young daughter

Listening to a tenor

Rhapsodizing

‘Come back to Sorrento.’

 

We have lived separate lives

But always

We are together in moments

Of celebrations

And imminent loss.

 

Nevertheless

I pray for a miracle

That she is given extended life

In this our desperate season

Of the scourge.

 

But then she is fated

To leave this earthly life.

Cousins are forever

In life and sorrow

After a cycle of life

In the happy island.

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