Thursday, June 15, 2006
Poem For Papa and For My Sons
Summoning the metaphor of stone, his name.
It stuns my tongue to utter it, my teeth
gritting syllables of gravel. So sovereign
it is as his shout calling me back, and I’m
suddenly a child again, mouth agape and gasping
for breath as if father were a word hurled
farther away that I must run after, hurtling me
through hurts unmapped, across estranged acres
traced by trajectories of rage, and gauged by
velocities of loss. Yet the sparks of a stone-rubbed
heart strangely kindles love’s belated
light; its warmth burning this intimate wrath
until it thaws, and smoke unseethes our ancestry
of aches— our common tree— where ire, rock-
rooting, was sired. Once in a dream, I stumbled
on Grandpa’s grave, and I clawed, digging
for his bones, its heft no more than a fistful
of pebbles. Wakeful now, I’m all ears to
the absence of his voice. It roars, swearing
I’m just a chip off the old block: a stowaway
towed by a wayward streak not even the most
severe of beatings could break. Consider then
the river and its heritage of boulders.
Imagine me as the bridge over it where you,
children all forthcoming, shall meet.
Go down the water. Wash your feet.
* SEVERIANO was first published in the Philippine Panorama magazine (April 13, 1997) and later anthologized in the Likhaan: Best of Philippine Poetry and Fiction 1997 (UP Press)