In the middle of Metro Manila’s water crisis, my mother posts a picture of my siblings in a swimming pool
In the stories we’re always the Israelites. Moses in the wilderness
drawing water out of a rock. In another iteration of this life,
my throat is parched. Sweat in my hair turning to salt
crystals, baking like food under the sun. In this life we aren’t rich,
but when the light’s right, we stroll in the gardens of wealth.
We live adjacent to its beautiful bronze gates, could waltz
in and out of its French doors, leave our umbrellas in the anterooms.
Go back to our rented house and dream of another
brunch in another Greek restaurant. In the photo, they splash around
the rooftop pool of a friend’s uncle’s condo, pretending to wash clothes.
Maybe in one translation of heaven we’ll have swimming pools,
gilded pits of shellac and tourmaline we’ll be made to fill
mouthful by mouthful from a nearby brook before we’re allowed
to swim in it. In this life, wilderness is a mouth. It must first be made
full with the right bodies. Reclining in our wicker chairs, the country is half
a world away, tinted rose-gold through our sunglasses. The swimming pool
isn’t ours but the here and now is. We hold these blessings
to be self-evident: of course the Lord provides. But how
do you portion blessing? In this water crisis, nobody has died of thirst yet,
but people die of thirst every day. We’re never Pharaoh and his foremen;
if anything, the wild reeds swaying in the river, complicit in the flow
and ebb that nudges the poor baby’s basket to the incensed aqueducts
of a palace he will take his first steps in, a sovereign country
a world away. Name and baptize me there.
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