Imelda | Cristina Legarda
When I was seven
a black sedan appeared
in front of our house.
My mother and I were spirited away
to Malacañang: they wanted her hands
and eyes, her stethoscope on a baby girl.
The corridors were mapanghi
(they smelled of urine).
Madame herself toured us around.
Yes, the shoe closet. An imposing quart
of Chanel No. 5 on the dresser.
Mosquito net over the giant bed
like a gargantuan bridal veil.
I wondered if visitors had to talk to her
through the tulle, or if they sat with her
beneath that gossamer tent, to touch up their nails
or gossip with trays of coffee and cake,
ants and roaches and flies be damned
The mosquito net stretches, unnoticed,
to shroud her abode – sitting room, palace wing,
even the smelly corridors. She admires
her own jewels. She makes speeches
to friends about beauty and love.
She picks up a cake knife, tells the lady
in the blue sash beside her “So-and-so
was sent to prison yesterday. People
are so careless with their words.
Would you like another slice?”
The lady acquiesces with a smile
and a bow, careful
with her obsequy,
in a giant
About the Author:
Cristina Legarda was born in the Philippines and spent her early childhood there before moving to Bethesda, Maryland. She is now a practicing physician in Boston. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in America magazine, The Dewdrop, Plainsongs, FOLIO, HeartWood, Coastal Shelf, and others.