In the time it took me to drive to work today
To drive twenty miles
Through thick sick smelling smog
Over overcrowded concrete lanes
I could have driven down to my great grandfather’s old farm, seen the piece of land they call Bubulao, which they say is haunted by some of the nastiest taotaomo’nas around, and where the soil is so rich it smells like a new moon, guiding a thousand more plantings and harvests.
I could have driven down to Si Ben Meno’s house and watched him fix his nets, or tunu I kinenne’-na. Talk to him about the strength of the Chamorro people during the war, facing off against Japanese bayonets and American bombs, having no one to rely on except themselves and their faith.
I could have driven down to Hagat and gone to visit Mr. Palacios. I could have sat with him and his guitar, and he could have played chords that Chamorros put together three generations ago, in order to endure the hardship of war. They strummed tunes and songs to make known their strength, their survival to all who would doubt it. And in the semi-still waves and the rippling splashing light of the setting sun I would feel alive, the only way one truly can, through the lives, the voices, the music of my ancestors.
In the time it took me to get to work, so much time was lost. So much life went up and turned into the smog that clouded my nose, clung to my lungs and threatens to turn my mind into little more than an idling engine, waiting stuck, stopped and going on a freeway.