A Waray Father’s Poem



(From a front-page photo, Inquirer, Nov 11, 2013) 

Its name changes depending on where we are looking. 
It is Haiyan. It is Yolanda. It is death as this wall of water
reaches up to the limits of this small Tacloban universe

where lives are lived as before. The rich earth is sacred,
the calm water so, and the all-giving sea, sanctified forever
even as it buries bodies bloated after days of buoyancy

in the wrong places and times. It is carcass we see, 
and let us all shoo away the insatiable birds of prey, drive them 
to where no woman or man is found, to the depths of this pain

that you all have go to through. Now, now, let me speak 
with you, nameless father holding your own daughter,
dead to the world, dead to life, her arms and legs

limp as you hold her like a gift. I see Abram before
he conquered his fear. I see Isaac, and your daughter
is one oblation to life, not in the appropriate places, 

but here we go, co-father, what else is there but grieving 
and this grief, personal and private, public and phantasmagoric!
I do not like these adjectives, but let me die a thousand death

with you for I am a father too, sir, and I know what happiness
there is to carry your young child, caress her so, smoothen
her unruly wavy hair blown by this hurricane of a restless wind 

whose name changes in the way our fortunes do. 
Let me walk with you, co-father, and pray
that each step you take will lead you to belief,

this one salve we can have after the chaos has subsided. 
You will grow strong, and you will have other children
and you will see your daughter in your neighbors’. 

And please, accept our prayers for you and for her.
Let her, this dear daughter, go with the blowing wind, free
and freed from this violence, go forth in that life hereafter,

and become the good, generous earth, the sweet water, 
the gleaming ray of the sun in this tragic Tacloban, 
this sunken city of your mourning, grieving soul. 

Nov 11, 2013


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