Sunday, September 25, 2005

Tatiana, Sophie’s child

Lavigny 9

By Mila D. Aguilar

There she was,
A mere 18 months,
Foraging on the ground
Below me,

Blond and green-eyed
With a sharp upturned nose
That promised to grow
Like her father’s.

She loved the pebbles
And would bring them up
To her mouth, till
I leaned down to

Look her in the eyes
With a knowing smile.
So she began to be
Interested in the nettles

But they were too spiky
For her small hands
Until she saw, among
The nettles, little

Elongated pieces
Brown with pale green
Patches. I too
Wondered what they were,

Like her. She picked
Them up to show to me.
I did not imagine them
To be as hard as they felt,

Until I looked up to see
They were the same color
As the trunk of the tree
Some feet away from me.

Bark, Tatiana, bark
Falling off the trees!
Bark falls off in autumn
Too, not only leaves!

As amazed at the
Discovery as the child
Was. I have always
Shied away from

Autumns, leaving
Before it comes
To full winter fruition,
But with the knowledge

Of the bark
Falling off like leaves
I think, awaiting 60,
I am ready now

For the dark of winter.

September 25, 2005
5:45-6:13 AM

Friday, September 16, 2005


Aubonne is a brisk 30 minutes' walk from Lavigny through the outskirts of a village, then a forest, a river, and a hill. It is composed of two parts: the old town and the new town. I wasn't much interested in the new town. This seems to be the center of the old one.

Photo taken by mda

Friday, September 09, 2005

She sells Swiss watches

Lavigny 8
For Sindiwe Magona, South African writer

by Mila D. Aguilar

She sells Swiss watches,
This woman reeded by age.
We had walked to Aubonne,
Two coloreds,
One black and one brown,
And found a shop selling
Watches, Swiss-made,
But cheap enough to wear
Without fear of getting
Arms snapped off.

The door was open,
There was nobody in,
So I called out
With the few French words
I know: "Bon jour!"
And she came out
With a smile that,
Though not ear to ear,
Was candid enough
Not to condescend.

I would not have bought
A watch for my gradddaughter
Or a Swiss knife for my son
Had she been other than
Unassuming. Do you accept
Credit cards, I asked,
And she said, "Oui oui,"
In the usual Swiss way.
So I chose my two gifts,
One after the other.

It was her manner of wrapping
That struck me and, I guess,
Bored my African companion
And translator, she with
Her native rhythmic sense.
I would not have understood
Yet would have accepted it,
Being Filipino, apt to take things
As they are, then leave all
To her Lord and Master.

I was a nurse, she said--
Wistfully, I imagined--
But my husband had two shops,
One in this house, the other
Across the street, so I had
To tend one--as she
Folded the wrapper
Ever so carefully
As if she were applying
Bandage on a wound.

After what seemed like an hour
She finally managed
To place her shop sticker
On the ribbons
With her finely gnarled
White hands.
I could have made
A short story out of it
But the image of her
Standing there,

Serious and honest,
Is good enough for me.

September 9, 2005
11:30-2:15 pm

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Whether Weather

Lavigny 7

by Mila D. Aguilar

Autumn's slow in coming to these parts.
One tree is turning red,
One other yellow green,
But most persist in their old color

Despite the onset of the chill.
Suisse is not unlike
Its washing machines
Their shortest cycle

A long 45 minutes
Gentle on any fabric,
Not apt to shear or tear.
I can remember New York

One summer, on Broadway
When I had to buy
Some synthetic jacket
In a bargain basement

Because the autumn wind
Had suddenly descended
Without warning.
And the brusque whoosh

Of their washing machines,
So massive, so utterly
Without compunction
Or civility.

Weather can be
A gauge of our humanity.

September 8, 2005
4:30-4:44 pm

Swiss Hibiscus

Swiss Hibiscus
Photo taken by mila d aguilar.
Here is the Swiss gumamela I wrote about earlier.

She sells Swiss watches

The woman in this photo is a nurse, but she gave up her profession to sell watches and jewelry for her husband, who is also an optometrist and runs their other shop. Both shops are in Aubonne, only a street apart.

Church Steeple

Church Steeple
Photo taken by mda.
The church steeple of Lavigny, like most other steeples in Switzerland, has a clock, one on each side, to make sure everybody knows the time.

Swiss Chalets

Swiss Chalets
Photo taken by mda.
Just outside the Chateau de Lavigny are other houses, small but old, sometimes with tiny yards put to productive use in terms of flowering or table plants like tomatoes and pears. Every inch of ground yields something for the eyes if not the stomach.

The Churches of Switzerland

Lavigny 6

by Mila D. Aguilar

The doors of the churches
Of Switzerland are closed
All day. No schedules tacked

On doors, as they are in
Shops in the villages.
Pastors come once a month,

Being in short supply.
The bells ring to tell time,
Signalling the start and

End of working day for
Farmers in the vineyards.
There are barely people

In the streets, even in
Junctions. So different
From my country, where the

Churches aren't big enough
For the teeming millions,
And so people gather

In the streets, geared to fight,
Tolling evil's end and
Telling the world about

The coming of the Light.

September 8, 2005
4:00-5:52 am

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

The reading at the Chateau

Beate Rygiert, a German short story writer and novelist, was one of those who read their works at the "lectur" on September 4, held in the living room of the Chateau. Seated on the right is her husband, Daniel Oliver Bachmann, also a novelist. To the left, seated on the sofa, is Sophie Kandaouroff, the Chateau manager.

Man, her pair

Man, her pair
Photo taken by mda.
A meter and a half away from the woman in the lower garden stands the bust of a man. They are surrounded by tall bushes which also serve as a fence around the large yard. In front of them are backless stone benches.

Woman in the Lower Garden

Woman in the Lower Garden
Photo taken by mda.
On one end of the lower garden stands the bust of a woman with classic Greek features.

Chateau Trellis

Chateau Trellis
Photo taken by mda.
The Chateau trellis is right next to the veranda. It goes down to the parking area and on to what used to be the servants' quarters, now the manager's home.

Chateau Veranda

Chateau Veranda
Photo taken by mda.
The Chateau veranda is where the five to six resident writers eat dinner served by some of the best home chefs in Switzerland.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Bells and howitzers

Lavigny 5

by Mila D. Aguilar

As the church bells
Toll the hour in Switzerland,
The village fountains
Flow their way.

Every hour on the hour
Signalling the start and end of day
And if you cannot hear
It rings again five minutes after

More insistently.
But the village fountains
Just go on and flow their way,

Towards August's end
The waters of Switzerland
Overflowed on Bern and Lucerne
Taking dozens to their death.

But the bells of Celigny
And Lavigny continued tolling
And the village fountains
Kept on flowing.

By September, some days after,
It was New Orleans.
A hurricane had struck her.
How many thousands died

In that disaster.
The bells of Celigny and Lavigny
Have kept on tolling,
The fountains still are flowing.

In Europe and America
Calamities are unusual.
In the Philippines,
We await our next.

Will it be
Political this time, we wonder.
Or shall an act of God
Finally stop her.

In Celigny and Lavigny
The bells keep tolling,
The fountains flowing.
But in the rest of the world

Both men and women
Have been sowing.

September 4, 2005
6:05-7:10 pm


Lavigny 4

by Mila D. Aguilar


The tropical








September 2, 2005
4:20 pm


Lavigny 3

by Mila D. Aguilar

Nobody seems to like
Bush in these parts,
Especially not his
Fellow Americans.

But look at the hills,
How placidly they plunge
Into ravines and rivers
The paths, whether paved

Or unpaved, all
Neatly laid out.
Nobody seems to like
Bush in much of the world,

Not even in America.
Maybe more in America
Than in the rest of the world,
But most of those just

Standing aghast
At every darned blast
Of calomelic casuistry
And blind bigotry.

Meantime, nobody moves
But Whitman's blades of
Glass twinkling under
Moonless nights

While the owls of our souls
Hoot ominously
Day and night
In the forests of Switzerland.

August 30, 2005
3:52 pm

Winged things

Lavigny 2

by Mila D. Aguilar

There are flies here too.
But they are longer,
With elongated wings
Covering elongated bodies.
They do not rub their forelegs
As much, and are not as quick
To fly off at the sight
Of a hand swatting.

The mosquitoes do not seem
To bite as much, at least not
Those who have had their
Dinner wine whether red or white.
You do not see them, tiny
As they are, except
Out in the forest,
Bunched too, but not
Hovering over heads.

But the mayas, ah, they are
Almost exactly the same.
Les moineaux, they call them,
A little fatter, perhaps, but not
Much bigger. They fly
Together, too, in small
Communities--cantons, you
May call them, or villages--
Barangays, if you will;
Feeding on scrap, or
Whatever you may
Throw their way.

For their nests they use
The sycamore trees
Remaining well-hidden until
Someone who knows them

August 29, 2005
3:34 pm

My barangay

Lavigny 1

by Mila D. Aguilar

This was not a place for kings.
Chateau does not mean castle.
A library certainly can be
Sumptuous, and so a living room,
Or a garden, a habit brought
By one British aristocrat's
Daughter clothed by

Yves St. Laurent
To these rolling hills.
But five rooms do not make
A castle, not even ten.
Look at the vineyards,
Never more than a hectare,
Patched by the roadside

With corn, or pear, or forest
Like the tribes of old
This is my Swiss canton
My barangay
My country led not ruled
My beloved land.

August 26, 2005
1:53 pm

And now the poems

I wanted to upload seven photos but flickr got only four through, so now I'm forced to insert the poems I've written so far at the Chateau de Lavigny.

There are five. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Lamp & Lake Geneve

Lamp & Lake Geneve by Mila D Aguilar
Originally uploaded by mda.
Another corner of the garden looks down on vineyards and, over the horizon, Lake Geneve, with the Alps beyond it.

Woman of the Chateau

Chateau Woman by Mila D Aguilar
Originally uploaded by mda.
On one side of the garden, beneath an arch of sculptured bushes, stands a half-bodied woman of exquisite beauty, the lower part of her torso but a pedestal.

Chateau Garden

Chateau Garden by Mila D Aguilar
Originally uploaded by mda.
But the garden takes all the beauty.

Chateau Front

Chateau Front by Mila D Aguilar
Originally uploaded by mda.
You enter the Chateau de Lavigny through an unassuming frontage.