Endowed in perpetuity by the Glenna Luschei Fund for Excellence



By Mikael de Lara Co

I live in a country without vineyards. 
We nail crosses to the trunks of coconut trees
as we wait for the sap to ferment. At night 
the bats swoop down from their canopies 
as the many words for fear rest heavy 
on our tongues. Mangoes dangle from trees 
like tusks and one summer
out of every century a vast predatory cloak
of locusts covers the rice fields. Understand:
we are easily scared in my country,
and when strangers arrive, our villages
echo with the sound of a thousand slippers 
slapping on dirt-roads. I live in a country 
where a prayer hides beneath every curse, 
and when one cannot find a word 
for what one feels, one sighs 
and lets the wind ache instead.
Sometimes we are reminded 
of our embittered gods, but only
as history, more memory than faith,
and when they rap at our windows
or peer from inside their bamboo thickets,
we see only shadows and think of ghosts.
I live in a country without angels
or snow, without a word for guilt,
and we are happy inside our churches
until the rains come and the rivers swell
and again we are reminded that, once, 
a goddess watered our country
with milk from her breasts and the lands 
filled with trees like so many green,
upturned hands.


Mikael de Lara Co

Mikael de Lara Co has received numerous awards for his poetry, among them the Palanca Memorial Grand Prizes for poetry in English and Filipino, the Maningning Miclat Grand Prize twice, and the Philippine Free Press Award for poetry. He currently works for the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office.

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