…kapirasong guhit ng buwan, / kay layong anino ng haplos.
(that sliver-stroke of moon, / its distant illusion
of a caress.)
Panalangin (Prayer) by Luisa A. Igloria, Via Negativa,
Lakay Tuangan* looks away from the terraces
after a deep gulp of rice wine, shakes his head
weakly, and lets out a quiet cry: O watch over us,
God of good harvests, Apu Init, Apu Angin,* Father
of these mountains that feed our children, hold us
now in your hands, big winds have taken our grains.
Wrinkled beyond his years, he stretches his sunburnt
back after picking up his yawning bamboo basket
still empty but for half a root of wild potato sticking
like an eye torn off from its socket. A beaten warrior.
Even the field rats have no use for the shorn stalks,
maybe the lumbering water buffalo pulled his final
plow, it will have to do for the slaughter to gather
urgent sacrifice for the angered gods, whose anito*
may have absconded at the first blast of disaster.
Subdued, he empties his earthen jug into his dry
throat, retches at the sting of the wine on its lines,
looks at the slice of moon, a smile from the sky
that has darkened quickly to ferry a tent of stars,
a sliver-stroke of moon, a distant illusion of caress.
Shivering from the gust of wind, he folds his arms.
*Lakay Tuangan, Old man Tuangan; Apu Init, Apu Angin, Sun Lord, Wind Lord; anito, angry soul, animus.
© Albert B. Casuga