I am a creative writing instructor, short story writer, poet, and freelance editor. When not busying myself with words, I am building/painting tabletop wargaming miniatures.
THIS IS A YEAR OF THE PIG CONTEST ENTRY
The Family Extant
Word Triggers of the Day: Grandfather, Disappeared, Ancestral. Still a work-in-progress (in more ways than one).
I would learn of them
when the holiday nights grew
long and the cans and bottles emptied
of Bud Light and Heineken.
In languid Ilocano, my elders disagreed
on the count of their siblings.
Does one number among those who died
infants or were stillborn?
I am one of three name bearers,
it is my duty to carry it forward
toward the future. However, as a leaf
I wonder about the roots of our family
tree. Over the horizon, our lineage was lost.
The trunk severed, branches trimmed
in the islands and lands distant:
Philippines, the States, and neverwhere.
I tracked the oral accounts of flight
plans back to Luzon. To the province of Ilocos
Norte. To the municipality of San Nicolas.
The fire that razed the hospital and its birth
records was the first erasure. This roadblock
on the dendritic highway halted all
progress until the information superhighway
and entry to the archdiocese of Nueva Segovia.
With family, first, and maiden names
scrawled on envelope backs and receipts,
I searched scans of church baptismal
records. I dove through the decades.
Past the latest as typewritten text
on Rolodex cards. Further were the earliest
in century-old calligraphy and not written
in Tagalog nor in Ilocano, but in Spanish.
My four years of high school foreign
language reading and comprehension
was adequate to confirm rumor as
fact: our great-grandfather was born
out of wedlock and assumed
maiden name as his own, now
our family’s to bear.
His baptismal record did not name
a father. There was no record extant
of great-great-grandmother having married.
One surname was passed down, shadowing
our own. The given name had doubled,
tripled in the telling: Valentino, Victorino, Vincente.
Of the three, none led further past
Am I naïve to believe that by unraveling
this weave of lives I can cast
strands beyond the horizon and hope
to spin a web around the world,
bind those branches and trunk
to our ancestral roots, and make
whole once more our family?