Esquire (Philippines) - - NOTE S & ESSAYS - CIRILO F. BAUTISTA

The gold is divine, the life is your own

Salt is food for the dead or the liv­ing, toasted or melted for mush­rooms and cab­bage, the threat for look­ing back at a vil­lage where your gold hides in a hole un­der the floor, where the flower vase on the win­dow gleams and glim­mers in the morn­ing sun. O poor vic­tim of love’s sick en­tan­gle­ment whose st­ing pushes men to war and great defin­ing schemes, be­lief is a mat­ter of con­vic­tion not of fear, whose end re­poses in this— the un­steady hand, the un­fo­cused vi­sion to­ward the brown­ish hill to spell out ‘bliss.’

So what if you crum­ble into soft­est bone— the gold is divine, the life is your own

The gold is divine, the life is your own de­spite days of trem­bling with pricks of spell, you’ll har­vest the thun­der whose bolts you have sown and gather salt and God’s mercy as well.

And if on your legs the white par­ti­cle grows then fair­ness works—the vil­lage will not know— slum­ber­ing af­ter thresh­ing the com­mon grains— that un­spo­ken faith gives strength through the night, or an­gels con­spire to shape what re­mains of hu­man long­ing into pas­sion and spite.

Tell the dog, the bird, the cow, the water­wheel the plain un­spo­ken facts that can­not con­ceal se­cre­tive houses carved in old fear­ing of tribal de­cline, of floods fast near­ing.

Of tribal de­cline, of floods fast near­ing the mind catches the hint, a look­out on the tower scan­ning the vale and the breeze,

and in the square a few peo­ple sit, hearing a dirge as it climbs over the wall­side, rolls over the fields to a meadow where trees stand in straight somber­ness: many here have died pro­tect­ing sheep and crops, the shrubs about the grass a tram­pled wit­ness to blood and shame, yours and mine, mine in my dream, in the name your par­ents want of clar­ity, clar­ity, though clar­ity is not an issue of the throne, and that re­dun­dant flower, char­ity, blooms last in cor­ners where the dust has blown. What blooms last in cor­ners where the dust has blown may spark a kind­ness that will put to a test the fruition of grapes in the chang­ing val­ley, speak, for the red trips the prag­matic and the best, and yel­low plucks the vine from what is known as tillage of the soil. We marry and fill the porch with toys and run­ning feet, we fall and we re­group, we bury our dead in holes in the ground, we say what must be said to com­fort us more than them, in pain we meet in their re­mem­brance but not too long and not in qui­etude. Per­haps a song about man­sions to warm their jour­ney but not a speech for what can be mercy.

Not a speech for what can be mercy.

But to­day the talk around the ta­ble, with boiled potato and fig and wine, ex­am­ines a sup­posed con­spir­acy to raise the value-added tax on swine hauled in from the hin­ter­lands. This we call abuse of of­fice, we’ll put up a block­ade and drive them back. No need to start up wrong, hide the lamp in the bush, suf­fer what be­longs to us to stay with us, paid or un­paid, of sex and the meadow, bear as best as you can the load of fickle fate like a faith­ful man. How can they know as they sing in drunken tune of a slaugh­ter to come with a dark­ened moon?

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