Swim/Salvage

By | 1 February 2019

When I was a child,
I learned how to float
on my back by imagining
the pool as a bed.

The posture
trained to be soft and yielding.

Nowadays, a child in my country
learns how to drown
with his face on the pavement.

In a moment, he is soaring
through the humid air, over
the cans of his playmates.

When he lands, he slips
on the oil of night and kneels,
is given a cardboard sign as lifesaver,
then takes in the completeness of dirt.

He is salvaged, although no one
in my country wishes to be,
for it is never certain who is saved.

Whispers know that those
who have kept their heads above
the flood use the stiff sacrifices,
prop their elbows on the driftwood.

The water, it runs between
the asphalt,
it carries the stench of a body.

My nation is birthed from this tradition
of typhoons and of men
who shout over torrential voices:
I will save all of you,

Then bless the people
with the power of seeing death:
a new corpse
as a drop of rain, instead
of a monsoon.

If a body can sink so easily,
why should memory be different?

But we have not forgotten.
The way we say goodbye is ingat,
survive, swim well and stay intact,
I hope to see you in the morning light.

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