Poetry Issue 2

   Issue#2: Jan - Mar 2003

Marjorie Evasco

Sic Transit Mundi

      This must be the taste of Language --
      The tongue mapped by many colors,
      Parsed by the vowels of memory, the roof
      Of the mouth the dome of a world
      Circumscribed by consonants, whose edges
      Suggest the sour-sweetness of oranges,
      The bittermelon's green rind, the river--
      Scent of mangoes all the way to the grove.

      When I sing of Balicasag, island
      Whose name inscribed the upturned
      Crab, I am translating a story of fire
      Razing a whole village to the ground
      When the revolution was fought.
      In whatever month dolphins are born,
      Mothers weaving pandan mats
      Pause to tell the story
      Of how it happened one day in May
      In the month of fiestas in Bohol:

      The churchbells rang mad at dawn.
      Someone had set fire to the orchard
      Of Padre Domingo del Valle;
      By noon even the grasshoppers
      Had turned to ashes.

      I sing this story now to let you taste
      The aroma of milagrosa rice boiling
      On the earthen stove, or catch
      From your open window
      The pod of lumba-lumba playing near
      The island's shore. And I want
      The edges of your tongue to water
      From the hint of acid in the air, as if
      Invisible trees stood windward, still
      Ripening in the burning sun.

      for Franz Arcellana