To One Who Was There
by Anthony T. Tan (Poems for Muddas, Anvil Publishing, Inc. 1996)
If for love you walked five kilometers
In the rain, under the rage of thunderclap,
The fury-vomiting sky that cracked,
Along muddy byways of an unknown country;
If for love you forded turbulent rivers
By hopping from boulder to boulder,
Scaled three mountains
That separate her father’s house
From the bus stop of a tomb town;
If for love for her you trusted a stranger,
Half-drunk with tuba, to guide you,
Carry your bag for a peso,
While your hands wore your shoes,
In an uncertain afternoon
That soon would be evening,
And you weren’t sure of supper
(The lack of which would worsen your ulcer)
– Who can say whether
It was courage or recklessness?
And you can no more undo it
Than you can prevent crow’s feet.
You smile, grateful time has made you forget
Whatever it was outside love that moved you
And the mountains under your feet.
The rain tamed the dust of summer.
You welcomed even the body’s shiver.
And where the flesh must now rest
And bask in the pleasure
Of a half-complete picture,
The spirit must pursue
The truth to its precipice – and know:
She wasn’t in her father’s house.
The muttering demented rain
Must have told you
The waiting would be vain,
But you waited for her all evening.
Then your ear-deceiving desire
Mistook each sudden gust of raindrops
For the sound of her footsteps.
In the dark it sounded
Like her drenched skirt.
From among the night entangled branches
The solemn, clear-eyed owl
Hooted away the witching hour.
Left with the cinder of your dream,
You knew that with the rain
The fugitive summer had ended.
Para kay suking kapatid, sa saliw ng awit. 🙂