How Our Towns Drown by GEMINO ABAD

How in the
downpour our towns drown,
downstream of doom to sea we are returned,
houses and pigs in ceaseless procecession
as skies boom and fall thundering spears
to beat down all curses and tears to tide —
among seaweed and driftwood and water hyacinths,
prayer-wreaths for the dead and the drowned,

 

downstream of doom to sea we are returned.
Tottering over manholes, shivering in the blast
of a blind monsoon, its hollow howl
the rolling dreariness of our emptied
hills,
our feet doubt their ground where streets
vanish in the gorge and swill of slime —
to flood at last we are flotsam and scum,

 

houses and pigs in ceaseless procession.
And
rushing past our brethren, those lovelorn
cats and cockroaches, amid floating roofs,
lumbering cadavers of cherished scrap,
our naked brats scamper and gambol
over their scavenged loot of murky things,
tires and handbags and bottles and shoes,

 

as skies boom and fall thundering spears
on Cherry Hill slumping down its slope
and shoveling homes in one boulder swoop —
landfill of families in moaning mud!
so sudden, their screams no echoes bear,
abducted to questioning rage of mind
by what “state of calamity” or “act of God”

 

to beat down all curses and tears to tide.
Antipolo to Pangasinan the earth rivers
and shoves down Pinatubo’s renegade ooze
to our paddies swelling to ocean of muck
and fishponds collapsing to swamp;
for bridges are down, and mountains too far,
to flee and shelter from the water’s
gore

 

among seaweed and driftwood and water hyacinths,
what word, what route? what water world
for breathing space, the floors of our dreams
but shiver their fittings and leak their gloom.
Clutch of seaweed for hair,
driftwood for limbs, hyacinths for a cloak,
what new indigene, only survivor to offer

 

prayer-wreaths for the dead and the drowned?
Requiescant in pace … vitam aeternam,
so cradle the infant, swaddled in rubble grime,
just now excavated and no mother to hush
its lost wail, no father, no sibling —
surely now their wreck is deaf to cranes
or fingers digging, to what end any change

 

how in the downpour our towns drown.

 

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