Poetry / July 2018 (Issue 40: Writing the Philippines)

Mama Was Reciting From The Book Of Revelation

by Jeffrey B. Javier

when tremors ripped the floorboards
and toppled the shelves full of saints.

Spoon still hanging in my mouth,
Papa spirited me out into the streets

and cried that the sky was bleeding.
The millennium was ending and stars

spelled our doom. A dead volcano
had erupted and dimmed the world.

Storms arrived and washed clean
the archipelago. Lahar was boiling

in my mouth. We called the names
of angels and recalled their faces.

Barefoot, we marched blinded,
our hair powdered in sacred debris:

the ceramic ash fall, consecrated
dust of fallen saints. In a chapel,

votive candles were lighted. Scents
and perfumes filled the air: match

sticks igniting, moth wings blazing,
magnesium burning. Children waited

among the rubble. How the houses
all lay in ruin and the sight pulverized

my father's heart. How I set his face
in my head, as solid as a stone,

that he may calcify like a statue,
as still and as silent as an effigy.

Light carved deep cracks on his face.
His shadow wavered on the walls.

How I sought to save the landscape
of my childhood, as Mama carried

and swayed me to sleep. How all
would be rebuilt and the memory

would fade like sand in my dream.
How I tried my best, lest, I forget.
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All poems, stories and other contributions copyright to their respective authors unless otherwise noted.