I am dead and everyone is weeping: The battalions I led, my wife, my children. My father’s ghost wheezes by a clump of melted wax. My enemies hover by the door. The lone librarian from San Anton halves a biscuit, offers it to the farmhand from Tignapoloan, saying: Oh, he was a man of many missions. The farmhand replies: Such a tragedy. We always knew there would never be a big enough casket. And so this urn. A lid, a heart carved of chipped obsidian. A pearlescent tree. Fruit is served, a mystery reserved for the grieving. The heart beats and everyone stands, takes a short video to post online. My enemies join in the crowd, recalling my words, those sheared sheets of metal. Remember the day when we called and he did not answer? What hubris, to think that his cause was greater than ours. Remember that night? It was gray and smelled of ash. What indolence, what hypocrisy. Although some of them used to fear me, enough to lie. My father’s ghost leans toward the pale flowers, as if to forgive me. How could they have known I was perched on the chandelier, a god of shards-in-waiting, avatar of iron worshiped only by rust. Ruling over rails, the way they receive rain. The weight they can carry. Luster undone by refraction. Gather round, all ye who thought I wasn‘t perfect, but. I have kept enough to myself, lugged my mortal burden for too many hours. Too much lint filling my pockets. Off to the gutter, now, to wash your hands.
Mikael de Lara Co is a poet and translator from the Philippines, where What Passes for Answers, published by the Ateneo de Manila University Press, was a finalist for the National Book Award. He lives in Cagayan de Oro City in the island of Mindanao. Photo credit: Christian Vallez
Monday, 14 November 2022