MARTIN VILLANUEVA


Martin Villanueva teaches creative writing and literature at the Ateneo de Manila
University (AdMU) where he is currently Director of the Fine Arts Program and
the coordinator of its BFA Creative Writing degree program. He finished his
undergraduate studies in AdMU and has an MFA in Creative Writing from De
La Salle University.






Housekeeping

And so they added an aquarium to the back terrace
and an oven in the dirty kitchen

and the septic tank will be cleaned
before Holy Week.

The house seemed to tilt.
Water would gather to one corner
of the roof, seeping
into the corner of the living.

But we've repainted.
Replaced the dead bulb.
Tightened the screw to stop
the leak.

Repairs come always in time
for someone's arrival.

*

The calls always begin with a query:
When can you come home?

We'll see. Like I said

A call a week and you quickly run
out of questions. Of course,

there's little shame
in repetition. The leavings afford
the fixings. We're never out of
repairs.

The faucet.
The ceiling.
The oven.
The TV.
The iron.
The back-right burner.


Over and over: Is it cold there?
Stay safe. Have you eaten?

Then:
Kaye is now as tall
as Bryan. Francis now works
the night shift. Mrs. Calpatura
has died.

Then there's Laura.
The girl always with Beth,
the daughter of Isabel
and Ramon. Yes, her.
The one who earns extra
washing our clothes
on Fridays.

*

It's a good enough home
apart from the leaks, the water
pressure, the little room it leaves
for parties and aquariums.

It has a good hardwood bench full of pillows. The windows
are wide and always open.

Not so far
from the market, not to near
where the trucks wait
for the traffic cops to leave
in the evenings.

It's getting late.
The Christmas lights are out,
barbecue and hotdogs on the grill,
cold but not raining. You—

have you eaten?
Is it cold there? Please,
stay safe...

The basement will be cleaned
in time.



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