Creation Myth in Tagalog
Land as concession, breezes
as intermarriage. The sea explains why
she hates the sky with so much
love in her eyes, how she begged
the kite to leave her
in peace. Bamboo as a child left adrift
at its mother’s breast,
humanity as consequence for
someone else’s undoing.
Still, the kite argues it was never his
fault, the birth, the conflict,
the separation of the heavens. How he begged
to be left in peace,
the rocks hewn timid across his flightless daughters.
So, earthquake as a god,
creatures as determined judges.
On the witness stand,
the parents explain they never wanted
so many children loitering their bed, how they
begged the violence
to scatter them so they might earn some
peace among the palm
trees swaying like bodies along the beach.
Fear as gestation unmade,
involuntary luck as societal status. Those who hid
in the house argue
that their wisdom justifies chiefhood while the sea
winnows children for herself,
unseen, bleaches them in pursuit of the clouds,
and allows them to come long
after the war had finished to wage another. The white
children explain why they bear
the sea’s blessing upon them. How they begged
for their own share, so they
might leave the rest of us in peace. War as love
sundered beyond recognition,
creation myth as justification for the disasters
birthed and enforced among us.
And how we begged for peace. How we begged.
Awit for Rizal
December 30, 1896
O Dios, O dusa / grief unfurled like a sanggol tearing his mother’s hair / that day, could you foretell everything / to come—a dog whimpering over your body / head bowed like a santo pleading / for your dignified wounds / O palad, O puso / that day, could you see close enough / to witness the tears of the firing squad—or were their eyes dry / and rough like the bone of a bird / familiar with your body / only as sacrifice / O sayang, O sigaw / that day, could you hear the Americans / sainting you a hero because you refused / to take up your espada even if you died / by its lusting tongue, your farm / somewhere crying for water—you must have known / O mestizo, O martir / you must have known the firing squad / by the way their skin / glinted like lupa under the sun / by the way they freed the dog before the second / round of kamatayan / Oy aso, Oy alis! / could you hear the colonizers laughing / at their own joke / I beg you to leave me / a remnant of yourself, anything to help me / love this inang bayan / word by word—but your portraits stay / as silent as ever, eyes staring like a man’s intent, set / on a mother who laughed first, deserted second / the grief just coming into bloom like your beloved pinya / the needles of them sticky and as sharp / as the whistle of your last breath.
Photograph of Yvanna Vien Tica by Casai Vien Tica.