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.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

We Kept a Jarful of Keys

We kept a jarful of keys
on a forgotten shelf
in the house.
What doors they opened,
or what they kept forever locked,
before they came by accident
or chance into our little jar,
we never learned.
"Let them stay there,"
you said, your eyes on mine
saying, take all I have.
Since I had let you in
to share my little feast
and you'd not wish to leave,
I nodded, "Yes, there let them stay."

We hadn't reckoned how
the years would wear love thin.
And now your pained eyes
search my face for all
I shouldn't have taken, and I,
I ache for all I should have kept.
We hammer the doors of silence,
bruising with words we could not speak.
How did we ever think
we had no need of keys?


Blogger v.baylon said...

finally i found your poem. i first read this in the book "Songs of Ourselves". I loved it so much.that was way back in 1998. I lost that book and have left the country since that time. Why didn't I ever think of the internet before. Thanks. Please say "Hi!" to Anya. She's a friend of my sister, Haydee Illenberger.

1:15 AM  
Blogger Merlie M. Alunan said...

Thank you for liking this poem. It is one of my earliest poems, written before I thought of writing poetry more seriously.

But there must be something strong about this poem--a lot of people resonate to it.

I'll say hello to Anya. May I know a little bit about you?

8:10 PM  
Blogger Luis Batchoy said...

hi Ma'am Merlie... May I translate this to Hiligaynon and post it in my facebook notes? Congratulations on your latest win in the Palanca. I missed talking to you na. Love you much

Luis Batchoy
Marcel L. Milliam

10:51 AM  
Blogger Merlie M. Alunan said...

Oh Peter Bachoy, I seldom visit this blogspot and am so happy that you found your way to it. About the translation, of course I am very happy that you took the trouble. It is the highest complement any author can have, especially from a fellow writer. Now for some tips on translation: The voice in your translation is a non-voice, a non-person. It is easy to find the voice here: a man or a woman who has a love relation that the years have worn thin. Think of that speaker as speaking in his mother tongue--he will not speak in this way, as the involved and complicated syntax of English forces him to speak. He would speak in a simpler way, still keeping the poem but hewing closer to the syntax of his own language. Imagine that speaker and you can translate the poem with much more heart. It is a poem full of heart, but a heart kept in check for poignancy.

Way mo pa bala makalimti ang imo nga kinaray-a? Ako takun nalipat na gid. Cebuano na ang akon ginausar nga hinambalan. But so glad to be reacquainted with you.

Merlie Alunan

7:58 PM  
Blogger literatus said...

I think I'll try translate your poem in Bicol Ma'am. May I po?

8:44 PM  
Blogger Lady Spring said...

wow! this was in my Lit class in college. I'm sorry to say I've forgotten your name ^-^; but I still remember the poem. Today I randomly searched "We Kept a Jarful of keys" and found this blog.

Thank you for these words. It helped on many of my soul searching moments.

10:54 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I found it! This poem was featured in our exam, and I was moved by the poem I think I spent 30 mins just enjoying rereading this piece. I salute you ma'am, I also want to become a poet like you. I hope I can fulfill that. Have a good day!

5:40 AM  

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