Let me begin by mocking the face of danger,

Daredeviling the unknown and the uncertain.

I swallow my pride and borrow from the sea

Some of its winds, to sail on, to keep sailing on.

A bird perches on a dead tree,

A bird that doesn’t sing but stares.

With its silent stillness it stares at me,

With its blue and white plume it stares at me,

There atop a tree that has resisted

The strength of a dozen men,

Their saws and bolos utterly useless

Against the hard skin of the dead tree,

Abode of a forest spirit for half a century,

Now killed by the expanding city,

Its green leaves that used to shelter travelers

From the heat of the sun now gone,

Its fruits that used to tempt wild and playful children

Now mere memory,

And the spirit returns to Mother Earth’s bosom,

Cursing the invaders of its space,

But such is reality, population multiplies

And sacred spaces become strange memory.

Alas! The persistence of men

Overcomes the timber, it falls,

Oh, how it falls with its dead root and all,

Its dead cry a thud upon hitting the ground.

I want to save it from the saws and bolos,

I want to preserve it in-front of the edifice,

I want to make it a monument of the forest

That is no longer there. But in the dead of night,

A roaring vehicle snatches the dead tree,

The dead fallen tree, to bring it

Somewhere where destiny reduces

The once proud bearer of life to mere lumber.

But the spirit visits the building once in a while,

Disturbing the peace of those who sleep there,

It doesn’t matter if it’s daytime or nighttime

The spirit becomes motion, becomes a whisper,

Becomes a presence among the living.

Business is not good but I persist

In that part of the city, giving employment

To those who have nowhere else to go to,

To those whose families have nothing to eat,

To those whose dreams don’t meet the national

Dream and don’t count in government affairs,

To those who make it to the national statistics

As faceless and nameless numbers.

To them, I am the final and last recourse.

To them I am an angel among the damned.

It’s an October in the once sacred space,

Now littered with population

And a backhoe rules the verbing

Where animistic nouns may only

Watch with wonder and disgust,

There in October, in the now of October,

In the October also of cursing memories,

Of deeper hurts, of daytime nightmares,

Of a parting with two thousand trees

And a hundred springs, there in the now

Of October, of the nevermore October,

I am at the once sacred space in an unholy hour,

While the earth wet with rain,

I fall into the backhoe-wounded path,

I roll onto the slippery mud,

In my long-sleeves shattered

By the fall and the rolling,

I try to grab at anything to break the momentum

But there’s only mud,

And there, an inch before I am delivered

Into the twenty-foot deep pit

Where concrete pipes await my falling flesh

The rolling stops – I am saved

By a piece of lumber planted into that part

Of the earth to mark where the backhoe

Stops filling the pits.

I bear the long wound of the fall on my back,

As if a wing has just been surgically removed

From my body. I am supposed to be dead

But am still alive, and the dreams

That haunt me bear the metaphors

Of those who claim to be living.

Copyright © 2012, Edwin M. Cordevilla

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