(A tribute to martial law victims in Samar)
Transitions are tricky to handle.
If only a few days after were merely a habit
in storytelling to render the plot more credible.
So that what came first could be understood
as requisite for another to occur. As such, horrifying
stories are easier to make sense of. As when you’re told
by a midlife woman of her story, who at nine
witnessed her parents’ ordeal from a tight sack
into which she was sealed, an inch of the straw weave
she holed out to see how bodies she had known
her young life could die grotesquely, slowly,
apart from the real life she lived in, while suspended
from a tree she had climbed, more times than she could count,
its canopy the flourish of her childhood, her mother
assured of the growing strength in her legs.
Who could tell how days were to be different?
As that day that began with the usual early sunrise
for the meal that brought them around a table
soon to be the site to their torment. The nearing
raucous of men in search of those who sympathize
with ideas sturdier than their guns filled the house
and hours after, cluttered the implements of home.
By midday, stripped naked of her clothes, her mother
had walked around in a circle of madness, forced
to confess to a treason that in their daily hunger
she barely understood, not an inch of her skin
left unscathed. Her abdomen ripped open
when they could no longer take hold of her flesh.
Her blood streaming into unyielding fields.
Her father fainted after hours of beating, a toe severed
from too much pounding of a rifle butt. In between
the wailing were bodies crossing a threshold.
The sun rose with her still in the air, a fruit too heavy
of its own sap, a knowing she would have exchanged
for anything to go back to those days when the hours
faded without fear. When she didn’t have to say
a few days after to tell the story of her life,
when fleeting forgetfulness could be the only reprieve
of years ahead. But such was to be the plot of her story
as with those others she has soon come to learn,
who had hung from a tree, impaled, or maimed.
Of too much pain, one survives
by taking it in parts. So a few days after is easier
on the tongue as it is on the mind. For how
lives could be told as they unfold, ravaged
before our eyes. They are the kindest words
to stall what could pass off as history,
chronicled now behind this lens to discern
how darkness unhinges, in between the sun
setting and rising, in between breathing,
in the flesh ripping apart, in the minds losing
what it could hold, numbed into
what it could wake up to
a few days after
- 99: BROWNFACESUBMIT NOW with W S Dunn 98: SINGAPORECOMING SOON with A Pang and J Ip 97: PROPAGANDACOMING SOON with M Breeze and S Groth 96: NO THEME IXwith M Gill and J Thayil 95: EARTHwith M Takolander 94: BAYTwith Z Hashem Beck 93: PEACHwith L Van, G Mouratidis, L Toong 92: NO THEME VIIIwith C Gaskin 91: MONSTERwith N Curnow 90: AFRICAN DIASPORAwith S Umar 89: DOMESTICwith N Harkin 88: TRANSQUEERwith S Barnes and Q Eades 87: DIFFICULTwith O Schwartz & H Isemonger 86: NO THEME VIIwith L Gorton 85: PHILIPPINESwith Mookie L and S Lua 84: SUBURBIAwith L Brown and N O'Reilly 83: MATHEMATICSwith F Hile 82: LANDwith J Stuart and J Gibian 81: NEW CARIBBEANwith V Lucien 80: NO THEME VIwith J Beveridge 57.1: EKPHRASTICwith C Atherton and P Hetherington 57: CONFESSIONwith K Glastonbury 56: EXPLODE with D Disney 55.1: DALIT / INDIGENOUSwith M Chakraborty and K MacCarter 55: FUTURE MACHINES with Bella Li 54: NO THEME V with F Wright and O Sakr 53.0: THE END with P Brown 52.0: TOIL with C Jenkins 51.1: UMAMI with L Davies and Lifted Brow 51.0: TRANSTASMAN with B Cassidy 50.0: NO THEME IV with J Tranter 49.1: A BRITISH / IRISH with M Hall and S Seita 49.0: OBSOLETE with T Ryan 48.1: CANADA with K MacCarter and S Rhodes 48.0: CONSTRAINT with C Wakeling 47.0: COLLABORATION with L Armand and H Lambert 46.1: MELBOURNE with M Farrell 46.0: NO THEME III with F Plunkett 45.0: SILENCE with J Owen 44.0: GONDWANALAND with D Motion 43.1: PUMPKIN with K MacCarter 43.0: MASQUE with A Vickery 42.0: NO THEME II with G Ryan 41.1: RATBAGGERY with D Hose 41.0: TRANSPACIFIC with J Rowe and M Nardone 40.1: INDONESIA with K MacCarter 40.0: INTERLOCUTOR with L Hart 39.1: GIBBERBIRD with S Gory 39.0: JACKPOT! with S Wagan Watson 38.0: SYDNEY with A Lorange 37.1: NEBRASKA with S Whalen 37.0: NO THEME! with A Wearne 36.0: ELECTRONICA with J Jones