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Tamasak of Barotac

A magnificent horse named Tamasak
is the town of Barotac's first hero—
for allowing itself to be led to captivity
by the Spanish colonizers
for the town's sake.

All that remains of Tamasak,
the stallion, is a song circling the valley,
its hoofbeats as plaintive as notes
in search of a stable wide enough
to house your childhood and a town's grief.

You no longer remember
what it was that brought tears,
such infinite sadness; for all that,
the melody, as lucid as history
but more compelling, tracks
its way across the years.

Even you
might perhaps choose exile over death
for someone beloved. Consider how
heroes are useful, in that their suffering
creates a debt which we must pay
with the wages of remembrance.

How they force us to look up
from the helplessness of mud
to the shape assembling in the darkness:
something with the fleetness of un-
fettered purpose, nostrils dilating
in the wind—

certain of the hills on one
flank, of the sea on the other; of the open,
unimprisoned country in between.

© Luisa A. Igloria


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