Pardon Our Walk

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By Keith T. Cortez

So you say in New York, you have to walk
the New York Walk. Walk like them
and not like some Canadian
or an Asian tourist holding
his digital camera.

Walk like a New Yorker, always a beat
faster than your heartbeat
as if you’re in a rush for an office
meeting or late for an interview—
suitcase in hand and a thick

corporate coat on your back.
But we’re sons of mother Manila,
under a totally different sun. We are what we are
even if we’re late for an interview
or a meeting. The smoke from
their mouths is the sweat

on our foreheads. We trip from time
to time, bump shoulders and step
on each other’s feet. And it’s not by chance
that this city is so densely populated, we’re
all simply going somewhere
at the same time.

So pardon our clumsiness, Mr. New Yorker.
Don’t compare our gawky stride
to your elegant glide and your million-dollar
steps. We’re not Canadians
in New York. We’re home, walking in Manila.

Montage Vol. 9 • February 2006