House Lizards’ God by Myrna Peña-Reyes: An Analysis

House Lizards’ God
by Myrna Peña Reyes

The ceiling their ground,
the lizards mate;
their sun, the lamp
beside my bed.

Between shadows thrown
by my playful hands
they chase white wings
they fold upon their tongues.

And sometimes when they fall…
perhaps they want to soar
but cannot fly.

I laugh,
a god who watches
from their sky.

This month the Silliman University’s Luce Auditorium will play host to an exhibit of works by acclaimed local artist Kitty Taniguchi, inspired by  Crow, Lizard and Horse-themed poems by poets Marjorie Evasco, Merlie Alunan and Myrna Peña-Reyes. I, together with Silliman workshop cofellow and student Mike Gomez, were present during the exhibit’s launching yesterday.

During the launching the poets read their works, and this poem was among the poems read by ma’am Myrna.

It immediately struck me as an imaginative piece the moment I heard it. And I resolved to making a blog post about it.

But making it appear here on the blog is really quite enough, a detailed analysis will be just an added luxury. The poem’s transforming image, that poetic feature that thrills me the most, is revealed with simple language.

But let us nevertheless take a look at it.

The poem begins immediately with a literal “inversion” of perspective to cause transforming imagery: the ceiling is the ground for lizards. This is further established by the image of the lamp beside the persona’s bed as the sun.

the first half of the second stanza reveals the persona’s imaginatively childish personality. There is also the hint of fascination for control in how the shadows are “thrown” (a deliberate act) as opposed to the more commonly used “cast” (a passive action). Further action by the lizards, eating, is hinted in metonymy by “chasing white wings” and “tongues.”

The third stanza takes the persona’s imaginative mischief to the textual level. Granting that the image falls apart when one of the lizards fall? The poem, in a feat of remarkable seamlessness takes off from the domain of connotation established by the earlier mentioned (albeit in a different context) phrase “white wings” and makes the falling lizard wish to “fly.” The image will literaly fall apart here, but not before letting the humble lizard fly!

This mischievous imagination is enforced by the last stanza’s first line “I laugh.” A playful acknowledgement of the fanciful imaginativeness of the poem’s image! Then, the persona, again in seamless takeoff from the connotations of control established by “shadows thrown” is made into a god, and the human ground made into the Lizard’s sky.

A deeper analysis of latent anthropocentrism, or the cultural implications thereof, could be done on this piece, but the dolce of its transforming imagery is really quite enough for me. I am turning into a decadent reader, and poems like these by ma’am Myrna are my guilty pleasures!



(Written on tissue paper, at San Rival Bistro, the Boulevard, Dumaguete City)

I can fancy
that sunrise
was melting in my mouth
and butter was cloud
– golden with the sunrays –
spreading in fluffy creaminess.

I can deride those
devastating moors of darker days
for failing to dagit
these golden medallions
sold just by the shores
of Dumaguete.

Golden Medallions –
Ah! I can continue that image
and delight at the velvety
crumbly surface
coursely polished
in shimeringly delicious texture.

I can play name-games
and draw attention
to the forest of Acacia trees
that border Boulevard yonder.

I can even allegorize
the Filipino heart,
stiffened by class or wealth without
but softened in sweetness within.

Oh, I could do all those.
But this Silvana
can bring no greater poetry
to the mouth
than its very dulce.