Day 48: catherine and anne boleyn

for all the GIRLS i’ve loved before

i won u with a strike-through

a smile,a word,a wine spilling

…style,was it mine?

your virginal touch was a rite of passage

my hands nimbled

my candy tongue eroded the blocks that built ROME

you said yours was a face of a savage garden

of pain that hopes

and love that sleeps

your love cradled me to a piece of heaven

while the flames played around your heart,not mine

when i said you were beautiful,forgive me i was on stage

i liked minute cars and lit candles during lent

but u were my playground

where i laughed,ran,and hid from calls

i didn’t want to step out of the castle u built for me

but i had to run again

and again

for me u were just a phase

but thanks,hey

u might’ve brought me somewhere

but my world squeals for me

i chose to hear myself over your silent tears

ive been an inmate for leaving you with a scar

as i take off my 20 yr old shoes

sure u’d throw up

and lend me a new pair

by then u might see me as something

to be thankful for

…for all the girls i’ve loved before

by Dess Verzosa


Meet Catherine.

Everyone else calls her Catz, but to me, she will always be Catherine.  Bess, her mother, was right about giving her the name that have been represented well by queens and poets, because in more ways than one, Catherine is, indeed, a poetic royalty of her time.  Not to recycle what was said about her by her friends and family as she is, in fact, the object of “cool” of her generation (and I hate the word cool for being so overused) but as the weaver of this story, I affirmly believe that Catherine, shiny and bursting with all that energy is actually a strong tiny girl swinging on a branch of a broken family tree.  In continuous search for who she is and what she emblematize as a woman who also loves other women.  But before that, a person who, like you and me, embraced gratitude for simply being in both the vexation and fondness of her mighty life.

Since we became friends here in Dubai, I somehow knew that we were connected to the same stream of consciousness that sprang from the delectable details in each of our individual lives.  It is easy to call her one of my parallel universe but I would say that we were born in the same universal alignment.  Had she been an axis, I would have been a planet and vice versa.  Let’s look deeper.  Catherine and I are both ex-lovers of substance abuse and both of us understands addiction of any form, are both happily married to music and the arts and we both derive pleasure from the outbursts of our deepest longings, much more by its impressions that suggests survival and the glorification of its bittersweet dimension.  This is why I called her my “co-everything” because we can both relate to each other’s misfortunes and glassy purview, even if sometimes, we do not actually understand each other.

Confused?  Don’t be.  Catherine is a bigger lesbian than I am, so our souls were calibrated by Sappho before we were even spewed from the bowels of hell to give life on earth.  And I mean, give it a better life.  So, by show of hands, everyone would agree that life actually did become better when Catherine came around.  Also, this is a girl who had a big crush on Michael Jackson when she was growing up.  The cosmos had a twisted way of raising glory.

Meet Anne Boleyn.

One of my idols of late was, in fact, a woman who lived in the 1500’s.  The second wife of Henry VIII and the mother of Queen Elizabeth I.  A tropological symbol of her time and was called by historians as   “. . .the perfect woman courtier… her carriage was graceful and her French clothes were pleasing and stylish; she danced with ease, had a pleasant singing voice, played the lute and several other musical instruments well, and spoke French fluently… A remarkable, intelligent, quick-witted young noblewoman… that first drew people into conversation with her and then amused and entertained them. In short, her energy and vitality made her the center of attention in any social gathering.”

She was a mistress of the king, after Henry’s failed marriage with the more royal Katherine of Aragon.  He pursued Anne because the latter did not produce him a son and in English patriarchy, a son was essentially the correlative masterhood of the throne, thus, ruling the whole of England.  As it turned out, Anne did not produce a son, having 3 miscarriages after the birth of little Elizabeth in her matrimonial life with the king.  The last miscarriage, a son, was entrenched to be the next king had he lived.  In the middle of yet another failure to produce Henry VIII’s inheritor, Anne became a political force in Henry’s court, appeasing a treaty with France that led to a unified Europe and often acted boldly for her husband, was able to grant petitions, received diplomats, presided over patronage appointments and foreign policy. The ambassador from Milan wrote in 1531 that it was essential to have her approval if one wanted to influence the English government, a view corroborated by an earlier French ambassador, in 1529.  During this period, Anne Boleyn did indeed play an important role in England’s international position by solidifying an alliance with France and alongside, was able to obtain the love of the masses.

Inadequate to show fruit fit for a proper queen, to bore a son, Henry VIII courted another woman and either out of frustration, insecurity for being scorned because his wife is more popular and likewise adored for her beauty and elegance, tried Anne Boleyn for treason, bouts of incest and adultery.  She was found guilty by all and was executed in May of 1536 for all of England to see.

Four centuries later, Diana Frances became the Princess of Wales and was called Lady Diana by the world who revered her likewise.  She would have been Anne Boleyn’s reincarnation except she won everyone with her smile and her mysterious semblance towards monarchical animosity.  Also, she cryptically died by accident after being chased by papparazzi.  Anne Boleyn was beheaded.

My friend Catherine used to perform in a band for seven years before I met her.  She did vocals and although she sang a bit of this and a bit of that, such a musical eclectica, there was always be a shattering voice of distraction in her.  A fragment of silent cry that only her can fathom.  I remember listening to her sing Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic, a fairly cheery song of a man in love with an ingénue, and her voice raised to an upsurge of petulance – somewhat jubilant and then angry at the same time.  She closed her eyes, articulated the lyrics for her audience to hear but as I looked at her, with my presbyopic eyes, I saw a girl oblivious of her surroundings and actually longing to be somewhere else.  To be above or submerged from where she was being applauded and lusted on.  As she belted the old Sting song, she was actually carving her way out – to be somewhere where there was, in fact . . . integrity.  Like me, she secretly abhorred falsehood but was living in a sea of fallacies.  Thanks to, well, life itself, thus, she occupied the power of the arts because somehow, sensibly, that’s where she becomes whole.  And as herself.

When I met Catherine through my brother Mark, I knew instantly that we would be friends.  In Dubai, it is a rare to find someone with wit, musicality and eternal fortitude in one person.  Catherine had them all.  And she was a hot property.  Besieged by her posse, she dwindled through the strobe lights holding her redneck Bullfrog in one hand and her alchemy on the other.  She kissed me on both cheeks and we started chatting about Queer As Folk.  As the night heightened, we found ourselves toasting, “Cheerssss for queeeers !!!”  And as the night wore on, we became fast friends.  That was in 2006.

I have always been a lesbian wannabe.  Fact is, I have always fancied myself a lesbian being attracted to women myself.  I really do not know what draws me to be in exact sequence with the island of Lesbos’ daughters.  Perhaps it is their dramas that lured me into their clitoral fences.  Or maybe, I am so obsessed with multiple orgasms that seeing two women getting at it is something I wished to accomplish in my wet and wild dreams.  Well, I can dream on.

With Catherine, I could honestly say that she has restructured lesbianism in her own terms because she is the perfect median of the quintessential (and tedious) butch gay and the overtly confused (and juvenile) lipstick femme lesbian.  She is not just someone who eats vagina – she knows how to use her vagina too.  Also, she is in touch with cosmetics, gorgeous eyewear, had boyfriends to her name when she was in school, wears Converse shoes over micro-mini skirts and she wears her energy over anything un-lesbian and unseasonal.  Catherine can be classified as over the hill only because she has tasted it all. Both her discernible lifeblood and peregrine tongue reduced much of her choices including her penchant for the weird foodies like isaw and sisig, rice over french fries and simply when she’s bored, vodka over salt and pepper.  And yet, one of her favorite books was Jack Canfield’s Chicken Soup For The Soul.  No wonder Catherine became a walking misinterpretation.  And in her own Anne Boleyn way, had been executed a number of times for doing something majestically improper.  And yet, so forgiving and as her friends would say, “Soooooooo cool”.

Retreated to the tower of London, where classified important people are put in detention, Anne Boleyn, accused of tyranny – a precarious judgment of the royal court that rooted from patriarchy – was set to be executed by beheading.  Even until the time of her “supposed”  death, the vivacious queen embraced her death as she spoke to the whole of London before stepping into the erected scaffold.  In red petticoat and a head dress the size of the Thames river, she said,  “Good Christian people, I am come hither to die, for according to the law, and by the law I am judged to die, and therefore I will speak nothing against it. I am come hither to accuse no man, nor to speak anything of that, whereof I am accused and condemned to die, but I pray God save the king and send him long to reign over you, for a gentler nor a more merciful prince was there never:  and to me he was ever a good, a gentle and sovereign lord. And if any person will meddle of my cause, I require them to judge the best. And thus I take my leave of the world and of you all, and I heartily desire you all to pray for me. O Lord have mercy on me, to God I commend my soul.

Her death inspired the next generation of women liberation.  It began a movement of feminism in the country.  Not only did she sire one the of the greatest rulers of England, Queen Elizabeth I, but in fact, theorized that women can maneuver a kingdom of her own and safeguard an entire country.  As historian Eric Ives stated, “To us she appears inconsistent—religious yet aggressive, calculating yet emotional, with the light touch of the courtier yet the strong grip of the politician—but is this what she was, or merely what we strain to see through the opacity of the evidence? As for her inner life, short of a miraculous cache of new material, we shall never really know. Yet what does come to us across the centuries is the impression of a person who is strangely appealing to the early twenty-first century:  A woman in her own right—taken on her own terms in a man’s world; a woman who mobilized her education, her style and her presence to outweigh the disadvantages of her sex; of only moderate good looks, but taking a court and a king by storm. Perhaps, in the end, it is the court’s assessment that comes nearest: intelligence, spirit and courage.”

Anne Boleyn and her story reminded me of my friend Catherine.  I needed not to justify the amount of strong feminine attribute that transpired in both women because I know that both are vanguards of their own truth.  And of being who they are and what they have chosen to become.

Catherine, in part, was very close to her sisters.  They were her soldiers.  Even as an adult, when Catherine first came home to the Philippines after her first quarter in Dubai, she broke down like a child.  This was not her childhood breakdown over a lady bug that her sister Bang would never forget, or the time when she was in high school when they had to fetch her punch-drunk at Sienna College.  These were tears of release.  Independence, being away, searching for true and endless love.  Searching for freedom and understanding the music she creates without her sisters.

Catherine did not grow up with a father.  Her parents separated when she was barely 4 years old and her mother went to the States to work even before she started going to school.  Her immediate family were her grandparents, her uncle and her two older sisters.  In their consanguine house in Quezon City, Catherine played with her cousins and configured her persona into a bubbly, fun-loving and musical godhead whose smile won the hearts of men and women alike.  She studied well and went to the University of Santo Tomas and completed Behavioral Science.  Subliminally, this choice may have been triggered by her unbeknownst preoccupation with her lost ancestry.  I recently asked her about that.  Nonchalant, she shrugged her shoulders and looked at me with concern.  I probed on and propelled words into her mouth.  She disarmed me by shifting topics but I knew that I was right.  I succumbed to silence soon enough and rode with her conversational boat.

As we went along, I thought about my friend and how she bravely designed her life the way she wanted it.  Having known Catherine for almost five years now, I admired her easy companionship and her complacency with change.  I wished I had her resistance for emotional torment, a proclaimed dramatist as I am, because she can move up and about faster than a flying bullet.  Nonetheless, in between takes, she secludes herself to cry and then comes back to earth redder than a dancing clown.  And Catherine can make you laugh as much as she laughs at herself for simply being imperfect.

Recently, she mentioned about seeing her father for the first time in 19 years next month.  Without a doubt, she had made peace with the universe and with herself.  The girl who was once happy being among friends and happily surging through the ups and downs of life came down diligently into revisiting her roots and perhaps, avidly, to get to know herself all over again.  To find a different yet distant, familiar voice inside of her saying, “Live to tell.”


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