Poem: The syllable of desperation



TACLOBAN, Philippines — In the wake of the devastating Super Typhoon Haiyan, international help trickled into the central Philippines Monday, with promises of more help on the way soon. But in the city of Tacloban, desperate survivors seeking to flee the typhoon one were made to wait another day. weather.com & AP, Nov 11, 2013

The race is on, this lifting of babies, 
an act to catch some hope to get out
of this wasteland. It used to be home,

this city of crisp laughter and refreshing rain,
comely maidens dancing with their young lovers
weaving what rainbow dreams can be woven

out of fertile fields and magical mountains.
In the remote past, healing words came out
of the murmur of riveting rivers, swaying seas 

singing of the future, sunshiny bright
and warm and loving, a time after time
but this, this desperation in its deathly form! 

It is ten thousand ceremonies of sorrow. And more. 
When grips let loose and we have but this,
we permit the young ones to go away. 

They do not deserve any second of this,
not this sadness that reminds of how the hours 
were too long to wait, and the misery

is longer, far more, with no blue water
nor savory food to imagine. It is the usual meal
announcing its absence, and death

is by the door, and every door is let loose, 
swung open for the rampaging waters to come in,
wrestle with everything, life and limb including, 

carry all these beyond memory, 
beyond seeing, to the depths of unseeing. 
It is Tacloban, this city. It is more,

And the towns will recount what hit them, 
and then we will no longer sing. At this
time, to lament is the order of the day. 

See the syllable that is in the dirge,
this despair that stays, staying death
to appear for a while. Until then,

we count each sound we can count, 
each meaning we can make out of this,
even as we try harder not to come to our knees. 

November 11, 2013


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