David Medalla: Cloud Canyons
Independent New York
November 06–November 15, 2014
THE BUBBLE MACHINE
by David Medalla
Some times my eyes become lachrymose.
Tiny bubbles mix with my tears
whether I am happy or sad.
Jimmy Dean made me laugh
when he threw popcorn over his mouth
and created a fountain in the air.
‘Give it a try,’ he said.
‘Open your mouth.’
Instantly he threw some popcorn
over my open lips.
I was not fast enough.
The popcorn fell over my face.
A few stuck to my sweaty cheeks.
Jimmy licked them off.
‘Delicious!’ he said.
‘You are delicious, I replied,
and gave Jimmy a quick kiss.
We both laughed
and hugged each other with delight.
That was in New York in 1954
when I was a lad.
Eight years later
I was in Scotland.
In Paddy’s Bar on Rose Street,
I met Viv McCorry, a young writer
who also played the trumpet.
An instant friendship developed between us.
We plied each other with drinks.
We said ‘Hello’ to Hugh McDiarmid,
the celebrated Scottish poet.
When the pub closed,
Viv invited me to go with him
to stay the night at his parents’ place in Leith.
The morning after I met his parents,
who welcomed me warmly to their home.
We had breakfast of smoked herring and porridge.
It was Sunday.
The pubs were closed.
The law said alcoholic drinks can only be served
on Sunday in restaurants and hotels
to foreign tourists visiting Scotland.
Viv said, David, you are a foreign tourist.’
‘No, I’m not,’ I protested.
‘Yes, you are. Come with me’.
Together we made our way to a brewery
on the Rock near Edinburgh Castle.
The brewers welcomed us
because we were ‘travelling tourists’.
They showed us how beer was brewed.
I watched the foam and froth
bubbling in the large copper vats.
Sufficiently inebriated. laughing,
Viv and I raced downhill from the Castle Rock
and uphill to Arthur’s Seat.
We layed our young bodies side by side
on the green grass
and watched in silence the passing clouds overhead.
My lachrymose eyes oozed
with bubbles and tears.
Tiny rainbows raced down my cheeks,
Memories buried by many years
appeared in my slightly dozy head.
I was a child during the Second Word War.
My father was a guerrilla who joined
a Resistance group based in Makiling mountain.
On our birthdays and festival days
My father came to see us in our home in Manila.
One Holy Week he visited us
bearing a large jack fruit from the mountain
and a small sack of plantain,sweet potatoes and purple yam..
At dawn on Easter Sunday
cries and gun shots tore the morning air.
Japanese soldiers were chasing some one.
‘The kempetai are chasing some one’, said my father.
We were silent for a long time.
After the ‘kempetai’ had gone
we went to our garden.
My sister Solita held me in her arms.
We followed our parents
to a hibiscus shrub inside the wooden fence.
A young man who worked with the Resistance group
had come down from Makiling mountain
to warn my parents that the Japanese military police
were going to arrest my father.
The young man had been shot.
He was dying.
I saw tiny bubbles coming out of his mouth,
mixed with blood
as red as the hibiscus flower above him.
Years later the Allies defeated the evil Axis Powers.
On the Eve of Independence of my native Philippines
I caught malaria and small pox.
Quinine tablets provided by the American soldiers
cured my malaria.
Native medicine from Herbs provided by a woman friend of my mother
cured me of small pox.
While I was recuperating from my illness
I watched my mother cooking guinataan:
tropical fruits.cooked in coconut cream.
I watched slices of jack fruit, plantain, sweet potatoes and purple jam
bubbling in the coconut cream.
‘This will give you strength, said my mother,
as she handed me a bowl of guinataan
still bubbling with coconut cream.
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