Highest Hiding Place

Posted in Books, Photos by NAN on 2009/09/11

After L. Lacambra Ypil’s Highest Hiding Place book launch at Mag:Net Katipunan last Monday, I remembered this photomanipulation I did for my project 365 last year. It was inspired by that collection, starkly by this poem below, which also happened to be his finale in the reading that night. Really powerful lines; I found myself writing in a similar tone the next day I was back writing at work. Available at Ateneo Press.

Five Fragments: A Confession


Why is the beginning of a story the discovery of a boy?

A dead one. In the garden.
Under a mound of flowers.
With his arms tied behind him, and his mouth shattered
And his eyes flayed into stars.
A hole in his chest the shape of a key.

Why is the beginning of a boy the telling of a story?


Let’s say there’s a boy who lives at the end of the street who likes flowers;
grows them. Tends them in a pot that’s orange to match the table he puts it
on, which is brown. Right under the east window to catch the sun at its
brightest, its yellowest.

Orange pot, living flower, sun of all colors! in a hierarchy of hope.
And an otherwise happy picture:
What does he think of when he wipes the dust off the leaves?
Where does the water come from at night?
Only he doesn’t leave it.

What do you think of when I say: Beautiful garden of his world.
When he writes in his diary:
beautiful garden of my room.

Confession: When I came out to my mom, it was night. We were in the sala. And
there was no one else in the house. She had asked the question, so all I had to do was
answer. The one who asks the question risks the bigger mistake. So she was in tears
and I was thinking of my boyfriend. When she was asking the question, I was
thinking of what story I could tell to make her stop.

Let us say the room of the boy is locked and no one can open it because the
key is inside. In the belly of the boy. In its tendrilled lock. Having swallowed
the key in a fit of fear.

Let us say he reads a book in the morning after watering the plants
In the beginning was the Word
and he does not understand it because
the Word was with God
and he was alone.
And the Word was God;
and he didn’t believe it because although
he was in the beginning with God
he was in the beginning by himself standing stiff
on the fulcrum of his heart.

Let us say that this is a story that fixes the parts of this room to the natural
movement of the boy’s desires when he rises from his bed of petals to water
the world.

Let us say we know his name.


And we have called him it when he was out of hearing,
or at its edges. Murmured our snides to his back
while his arms a-flutter. And his fine hands hold
a tip of his glass for his lip to kiss. And this seemed enough evidence

for us. For the longest time.
while his mother’s pregnant wish for a girl bloomed his aromatic amniotic

We believed the books of Science would herald in a new age


and all the old sins be forgiven: all its ribbons. The pins
for each part of the body and the long, tedious experiment of its reading.
Knife of the eye on the eye, and one slit
precisely the wide girth of the hand and the belly, shin of the leg
to the edge of the foot, till one reached the hole of the mouth
where slept the tongue with its many questions:

presuming you needed these questions:
What is the longest vein of the body?
What lay posterior to the heart?
What is the pubis?
—   A confession:

Forgive me/father, my words, for they have sinned. I have no control over
them. Especially at night. When I sleep with my mouth open, my legs open,
my hand— Three times last week; and I couldn’t get enough of it. Not when
the man from across the street cleaned his car every morning without a shirt
on and I could see his glorious body glisten where the sun hit the water and
he scrubbed wind-shield, rearview mirror, edge of the bumper, roof of the
car, rear of the car, scrubbed / clean / rough, shiny edge of the left door, left
tire, right, round hard steering wheel, polished smoothly without scratch,
smooth corner of the car, headlights, till he jacked open the belly of the car,
slid under to look under it, with his legs / wide / open.

The world was shining with what I could not understand.

In grade school, one Valentine’s day, the boy who sat at the back of the class
held in his hands my heart and he didn’t know it. What pain when he
slammed his hands on the desk! And the teacher asked: You. You have a

I had a question. I had a question to end all questions. All of them.


When the mouth had screamed its dark secret
from its dark center
and the eye held intently the gaze of the suffering world—

Whoever said it was going to be quiet after?

I was five and holding into the air a bowl of marbles catching the light of the
day. When I felt a strong wind blow from above my head the leaves that had
covered the window from next door. And I saw from where I stood what I
was not:

Hand in the sleeve of a shirt.
Hair mid-way between what it covered.
Someone wanting to kiss the thin bone
of a woman who did not.

The enterprise of shock at the level of description where what was hidden
became violent became beautiful.

The day after, I did not want to be touched. Slow days long after. Long into
the cruel aesthetic of the slow years that were spent not moving. Fixed into
that place in the garden years ago where instead of the sympathy for the
maimed I was filled with the wish to enter the picture of the window in any

Anyway, it was not my story. This was:

O Adam, O lonely lonely Adam
before you were split into Eve–


One Response

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  1. paoruiz said, on 2009/10/01 at 4:50 PM


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