06/01/10Days after Mt. Pinatubo erupted
in 1991, when the ash merely floated
down, no longer shoveled over us,
when we could hear our low
hoarse voices name
our dead, mourn in the open
even before they were found,
dragonflies appeared in clouds
the rugged outline of ripped walls,
snapped homes. They hovered
in a procession of wings
along the margin of packed debris
where roads grew mouths.
Some of us had armfuls of a home
left. Those without
carried the sun on a stick of wax
and went. But the dragonflies remained
in our backyards, a constant hum
by our uprooted gates, huddled
over cracked cement
like curious folk. Like road signs
on wings, they pointed
to gumamela, santan shrubs,
ipil-ipil, anahaw, all still
green under the grey, even
the makahiya blooming
two inches from the ground.
* On 16 July 1990, an earthquake of magnitude 7.8 struck the northern part of the Philippines. Not a full year had passed when another disaster occurred: the violent eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in June 1991. Ash cloud, ashfall, ash deposits turned the affected provinces into ash land; but, I remember that time for the dragonflies, too. So many died, so many things lost, so many dragonflies.
* Do visit the Tuesday Poem site, and read the featured poem picked by this week's editor, Bernadette Keating. Once you're there, you might also be interested in checking out the poems posted by the contributors; the direct links to said poems are indicated in the sidebar. Cheers.