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by Al Young

She talks too loud, her face
a blur of wrinkles & sunshine
where her hard hair shivers
from laughter like a pine tree
stiff with oil & hotcombing

O & her anger realer than gasoline
slung into fire or lighted mohair
She’s a clothes lover from way back
but her body’s too big to be chic
or on cue so she wear what she want
People just gotta stand back &
take it like they do Easter Sunday when
the rainbow she travels is dry-cleaned

She laughs more than ever in spring
stomping the downtowns, Saturday past
work, looking into JC Penney’s checking
out Sears & bragging about how when she
feel like it she gon lose weight &
give up smoking one of these sorry days

Her eyes are diamonds of pure dark space
& the air flying out of them as you look
close is only the essence of living
to tell, a full-length woman, an aunt
brown & red with stalking the years

— from The Blues Don’t Change.


[EDIT: April 23, 2015]

This morning I lost my aunt, my mom's sister, Gina Vistan - Naniong to cancer. She was diagnosed with advanced cancer in the bile-duct/pancreas area, after a tumor was found just about a month ago. She was not just my tita, but in many ways, my older sister, and my best friend. While for a fraction of my life, she had been based in Singapore, she still played the role of second-mother and partner-in-crime to me (along with my mom's other sister, Tita Karen).

I spent my Holy Week in Batangas where she was confined in a cancer institute there, and everyday since then I've offered my prayers for her. Everything happened so quickly and quite frankly, I'm still wrapping my head around it. I couldn't even write about her being diagnosed without tears welling up - more so this. It's surreal. I'm sad, perplexed, angry, frustrated - I'm all over the place. But I comfort myself right now at the thought that she is finally free from all pain. Please offer a prayer for her soul if you can. She was a great person and a truly amazing human being. I can't imagine where to go from here.

I'll miss you everyday, Tita Gina.