Poetry / June 2016 (Issue 32)


by Abner Dormiendo

"Some of the soldiers laughed as they beat the children against the trees. Not to laugh could have indicated sympathy, making oneself a target." (Wikipedia)
The joke here is not the genocide.
The joke here is that there's a tree
that grew some years ago back when
no one called it the killing fields.
The joke here is that there's a seed that fell
and allowed itself to grow, that the soil
permitted the seed to bury itself and do
whatever seeds are supposed to do,
which is of course to live. The joke here
is that it lived, became a sprout, lived long enough
to grow a trunk as thick as it needed
to withstand the impact of skulls. The joke here
is nature, who only wanted to make everything,
as per its nature, natural, so the joke here is not
that one killed another. The joke here is
not that the soldiers found the whole thing
funny enough to laugh at as they bashed
young bodies against the tree. The joke here is
the roots that took in the blood, the dizzy dancing of
leaves. The joke here is that they laughed.
The joke here is that the tree laughed
and is laughing even now
long after the joke has been told.

 Abner Dormiendo is a writer and a teacher from the Philippines who graduated with a degree in philosophy in Ateneo de Manila University. He received the Don Carlos Palanca Awards for Literature last 2015 for his poetry in Filipino. His other works, both in English and Filipino, appeared in High Chair, Plural Prose Journal, and Heights Ateneo, among others. 

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