Alegria Imperial: “this change of name”


Alegria Imperial, a frequent contributor to this blog’s poetry pages, shared with me this meditation on an important upcoming transition in her life. Originally from the Philippines, she will now have dual citizenship in her adopted country, Canada. Her spare, elegant language and attunement to nature show the influence of yet another country, Japan, as her writing has been shaped by the discipline of studying haiku and tanka.

Alegria says of her multiple identities: “I’m about to take my oath as a Candian citizen and pledge allegiance to Queen Elizabeth II! I find it both exhilarating and ironic (the pledge of allegiance, in particular); here I am coming from a country that fought for freedom from Spanish royalty for 300 years, regained it, lost it again, and gained it back, but chosing to move to Canada I will now willingly become a subject to a queen in a few days.”

this change of name
by Alegria Imperial

it is
a matter of spelling
only
this change of name

or am i fooling
the skies i look up to
the clouds
none i can name

the mountains
that shimmer
stealing in in stead
the names

of mountain ranges
facing East
among its jungles
my spirit roosts

alien snow
now smothers
my laughter
i drift aground

is earth
unlike the sun
untouched
by sorrow?

i hear
from mourning doves
the language
of dawns

i mismatch
evening clouds
in my dreams
the chill stays

yet the sparrow
shares its songs
that seep into my sleep
lull my world

i regain my name
on Hollyburn
where a lotus by itself
on the lake

–such poignancy–
mirorring my loneliness
soaks the sun
as if enough

i trail the buds
lined along the Fraser’s North Arm
winding down and up
the river bed

the tide cuts a line
between my dreams and the sky
ripples catch my breathing
in rhythmic sighs

i’m scaling the breast
of Burnaby Mounains
my soul resists
its longings

i’m close to home
close to sinking
in the foam
skirting Horseshoe Bay

an eagle skims
my rhyming
my longings weave
in and out of the air

on a skein
of cherry blossoms
once only paintings on scrolls
i learn to haiku

–thinking of moths
in my childhood those slivers of light
that die on the light
and fade in the morning–

on my waking
i am who has always been
the city aground on my steps
whose name i can now say

even in sleep–
Vancouver


5 comments on “Alegria Imperial: “this change of name”

  1. Reading it here, I feel my poem has leaped up to a higher dimension; it feels more siginificant! Yes, I did take my oath in French and English on the 22nd with 66 others from 12 countries. And I realize that in the tapestry, which Canada has been weaving itself, I’ll enrich it with a strand of my Filipino-ness. It took me to immmigrate to be more of who I am more than ever! Thank you for holding my hand in friendship through poetry.

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