• Sampaguita

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    On Atlantic Avenue in Daytona Beach
    Between the dirty sidewalk
    And the noisy traffic of flashy cars
    I discovered this tiny plant

    From the very first seeing
    It was so familiar
    Though it looked just like any weed
    On the shabby strip

    Splashed by muddied water
    When it rained
    Covered with oily dust
    When it was dry

    That was early summer:
    I could not place
    Its friendliness
    But I kept coming to it
    As if it was calling me
    It seemed to glow
    Like a friend with a happy secret
    That is about to be sprungon  you

    Then one day the white little flowers             were there
    And amid the garish Daytona traffic
    A fragrant flood of many a cool May         evenings
    Of my homeland

    Bursting into rivers
    Of gentle laughters
    Of caressing serenades
    And of small hands weaving garlands

    Tears of joy
    Tears of loneliness
    I have found another exile:
    Sampaguita in this foreign land

    I picked a few flowers and went my way
    Murmuring to myself that when I have         the time
    I will dig up this tiny plant
    And care for it else where

    For days I had a fragrant bit
    Of the Philippines in my shirt pocket
    Until the gentle white flowers
    Became fragile and brown

    When finally I had the time
    I found that Atlantic Avenue
    Had just been widened and paved
    And mysampaguita plant was gone

    (Ernesto V. Epistola is a Filipino cellist and conductor long residing in Sarasota, Florida. Now in his mid 80s, Epistola is a University of the Philippines alumnus. His haiku poems have been published abroad and here in this country.)

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