poetry and other works

Merlie M. Alunan worked for her Masters Degree in English at Silliman University in Dumaguete City, majoring in Creative Writing and studying under Edilberto K. Tiempo. She was a writing fellow of the Silliman University National Summer Writers Workshop and the UP Creative Writing Center. Most of the poems collected in this blogsite are from her first book collection, Hearthstone, Sacred Tree. The other works have also been published in local newspapers and other publications.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Amina Among the Angels

July 29, 1994,
Three years after the Flood.

Not by your old name I address you,
no, not by the one you went by
when living in the midst,
Mamang, name that kept you bound
to cradle, washtub, sink stove and still
your back bent and all your singing
caked into silence, your dreaming crushed
like fishbones in the traffic of daily need.

Your own name, then. Amina.
Cold letters etched on stone in Ormoc's
graveyard hill, the syllables gliding still
all music and glod upon the tongue of memory.
Amina. Back here, no news you'd like to hear,
or that you wouldn't know: One day at noon,
in a year of war and famine, of volcanoes bursting
and earthquakes shaking the ground we stood on,
floodwaters broke the mountains.
Our city drowned in an hour's rampage.

But you've gone ahead to this hill earlier,
three years, you weren't there to witness
what we had to do among the leavings of the water,
mud, rubble, debris, countless bodies
littering the streets-- your husband among them, a son, his wife, their children--how in a panic,
we pried and scraped and shoveled from the ooze
what had once been beloved, crammed them
coffinless without ritual without tears
into the maw of earth beside you up on that hill.
Amina, what have the angels to say
of that gross outrage?

You must know I keep my own name,
times, I feel myself free
to chosse the words of my singing, though
in my own woman's voice, cracked
with too much laughter, or anger, or tears,
who's to listen, I don't know,
admitting as I do no traffics with angels.
I htink of your beauty fading and this,
what's left for a daughter to touch-- your namestone
mute among the grass greensinging,
your name i raise to the wind like a prayer.

If you hear it among
the lift and fall of angel wings,
oh please send word somehow.
Please let me know, have they given you back
your voice?Safe among the angels,
what can a woman sing?


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