By: Victoria Smith
As of this writing, I’m in the Philippines attending my 40th University of the Philippines batch reunion. I’m also slated to have my Philippine debut book launch of my prize-winning novella, “Faith Healer” and my critically acclaimed poetry collection, “Warrior Heart, Pilgrim Soul: An Immigrant’s Journey.” Such important events are naturally wrought with emotion—both good and bad, apart from the logistical physical challenges of navigating a city that has grown beyond familiarity, and along with this maze of physical paths—taking on the tricky trek of social relationships that have become murky from years of neglect or quagmired in the same old vicious cycles of adolescent style politics.
But I have never felt more confident or sure of myself in the midst of all of these otherwise doubt-provoking land mines buried in this landscape. I have been ready for some time now. It’s like coming full circle for me. I feel mostly gratitude for this privilege of being able to enjoy again the company of friends from my youth and likewise be able to introduce them to the world of imagination and reflection I have come to inhabit as a writer—a world that could challenge some of them to reimagine their own worlds and blaze new trails in their lives.
“I am the captain of my soul; I am the master of my fate” says the famous line from Walt Whitman’s “O Captain, My Captain”. I remember those lines well—for I memorized and performed that poem at ten years old and won as prize my first dictionary. I’d treasured and used that dictionary until its pages had shred into brittle fragments. I tried to learn a new word every day until that dictionary ran out of words to teach me. All my life, words came easy to me. But how to use the right word at the right time—that took some time to learn. I’d seen how a careless or angry word could reduce someone into an empty, bitter shell. Words have power. Words have magic. Words could save or destroy. Tomorrow, I will show my friends how I’ve learned to master my words so that others might be inspired to become masters of their own souls and fates.
You see, my words have the power to build bridges that otherwise had been burned decades ago, as my poem below alludes to. This was a homecoming whose time had come.
Come back with me to where cicadas smother the dusk with their mating song, rousing Dama de Noche from sleep to soak the night air with her seduction. There, the stars shine like watchful eyes in labyrinthine onyx sky, and the warm breeze caresses like a lover’s fevered hands. Do you remember how we listened to the ocean inside Neptune’s ears? How I long to see the moon—a gold medallion etched with Madonna and Child, rising to jubilant arms of coconut trees waving and singing, “Hallelujah! Hallelujah!” There, I remember how the Goddess paints a ribbon of magic upon gentle tides, paving the shimmering path for sweethearts’ bancas to kiss the waters with prayers of adoration. I can hear the gitaras strumming the melancholy notes of the haranas, haunting the evening with serenades of suitors forever yearning for lost loves. How long before the exile returns to the Birthland? Shall I live the salmon’s fate—banished to foreign waters, until death calls? Alas, only time sweetened by love’s memory has power to build bridges burned back to life.
(All rights reserved. Copyright ©2018 by Victoria G. Smith. For updates on her author events & publications, go to VictoriaGSmith. com. “Like” her on Facebook at Author Victoria G. Smith. “Follow” her on Twitter @AuthorVGSmith)