My Students are My Birthmarks

Cindy Velasquez believes students leave a mark, a very beautiful mark. 


Ang langgam ug ang hulmigas
(the bird and the ant)

Last week, my students from my English 37 class (Children’s Literature) went to Mahayahay, specifically a small school for children, this place is a squatter area facing SM Cebu. We had storytelling. We had games and light snacks too for the children. We went to this place because of two major reasons. First: this was their final exam. Second: to serve. But surprisingly, I was amazed by my students. It was like I went somewhere else.


Listening to their big sisters

I wrote this poem for them.


There is a story: in Arabic, birthmark is called wiham, it translates to wishes, according to folklore they are caused by unsatisfied wishes of the mother during pregnancy. And another story: in Iranian folklore, a birthmark appears when the pregnant mother touches a part of her body during a solar eclipse.

I stop.

I feel a strange spots growing on my skin. It stains like color blue with a mixture of black whenever I try my best to simplify the most difficult part of the lesson inside the class. I find these birthmarks beautiful. I can hear its border shaping on my yellowish skin whenever I let my students see animated films, especially Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle. Then without a hassle, I appear living in my past life. Everything was facile. I was a mother with eleven daughters, their names I could still remember: Priscila, Carmel, Catherine, Glennyl, Prety, Sweet, Venus, Cherry, Lucille, Joplyn and Shiela. And I made wishes for them.

But in their second lives, I was not their mother. Strangely, those birthmarks return to me like a seal, it footmarks on this earth. It becomes a landmark on my skin. It returns to me, but not to them. But they don’t know I can still see my wishes on their skin. I see their birthmarks whenever they say: thank you. I see it whenever I hear their voices speaking to the children and sharing what they learn from our class. Then, I see a solar mass in a telescope, tonight in my dreams, there will be no full moon. I will see a dragon eating the moon. I will be back in my past life. I will wait for the monsoon’s gas. Tonight, I will touch a part of my body just like the story.