And our eyes opened like wounds.
And our wounds declared their solemn hurts,
and the stars reflected the beeswax of history,
the chipped ivories, the runaway ghosts
making fire in the blinding wild.
Arms like branches and hair like leaves,
at night we mistook them
for the blackest of trees.
No melody but gong-beat
No blade but stone
No memory but rain
No code but ritual
split into dreamscape and amber
we offer you alms
we offer you carabao butter and clams
We offer you minor drone
Coral like benthic saints
hardwood that took a tribe to fell
they crushed us and cut us
and buttressed their churches
with our bones
We had a god once
we suckled from her breasts the sea
Fractals split from sand
No torrent because dam
The locusts came for our paddies.
We came for the locusts in return.
When were we slaves?
We pined for wages.
Hauled our souls from the forest.
Look at our backs
sore from wishing for wine,
our ports trafficking in despair.
We chased the pirates down the coastline.
Caught up to them by the bay
then prayed as we rinsed
their blood from the planks.
Sad Magwayan, we offer our arms as oars
as you ferry them to Sulad.
Forgive us our fury. Suffer us our ribcages.
Deliver us from the sun
that pries open our rage.
Brother: That we are alive
means that no one deemed our fathers
worthy of killing.
When the mother
felt her throat constrict
into the first Salidumay
When the first godseed
was planted on the shaman’s forehead
When the first fowl
was slain over Apo’s grave
When the first sailor
saw the startled forager
unlock the secret of grass
He must have thought
I must tell everyone about this
Mikael de Lara Co
1 March 2018