Sunday, February 10, 2013

Lost in Batanes




March it was
the month when my heart

my fumbling   restless   stupid heart

gathered its resident blueness

& set it side by swollen side

with the translucent turquoise

heavings of the Ivana Channel



i wanted you seated beside me

riding a rocking   round-bottomed falowa

a frail   forlorn transport

to the isle of Sabtang.



it was there

there that i wished

we could bury the hurts

we had inflicted on each other

in the creamy sand for skittish

hermit crabs to fight over.



but you were elsewhere again

dressed like & with the gait

of an open-mouthed tourist

curiously poking into the dusty corners

of a church where the smell of dried

collective sweat assailed

the itinerant worshipper.



what is it about us then

--the few moments we

are flung together a pool

of space instantly

rises between us?



should we have

tried to wade

to brave the rough surf

i clinging to your muscled arm

you holding me by my bloated waist

our bodies receiving

the benediction of the Pacific

currents?



or should we have

in the spirit of childish mayhem

rolled down the hills

of Payaman

our torsos joined

before the eyes of the indifferent

cows & the astonished gaze

of our fellow travelers?



what winds of madness have brought

me to this place where just beyond

this cold & comfortless bed

we heard the tauntings

of the seductive sea as it

licked with infinite gusto

the yielding shore?



your nights were strangled

by dreams of shipwrecks & drownings.

desperately you moaned

twisting the sheets

but heedlessly I dozed

my own discontent stilled

half tranquilized by my

nightly Thorazine.



o dear one

we should not have let

our love languish

on the roiling surface

of the water

like an orphaned floated

from a fisherman’s boat.



who would scoop them out?

the love along with the old appetites

the yearnings & obsessions

now bedraggled & wrapped

with seaweeds & moss?



we were such cowards

i the bigger one

for failing to jump in

to save the remnants

of this short   short bliss

that was

our wedded life.



--Babeth Lolarga

1999

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

About this poem: 

It took a broken Netbook for me to gain time to sift through my papers and find hard copies of two poems that I had wanted to include in a third poetry manuscript. Who stops at two collections of verses? Let me ask you that. 

This poem was written to accompany a suite of photographs that were as many as there were stanzas in "Lost in Batanes." The framed "Chromatext" pieces were part of a group show of the art guild Salakai, founded by sculptor Jerry Araos, at the GSIS Museum. It was the guild's offering to workers and employees, the show's opening around the time of Labor Day. Jerry used his curatorial eye to select the enlarged panoramic photos that were eventually framed using his wood design. 

I have smaller prints of those photos I took in March that year when I joined my husband  and his colleagues in the academe on a memorable trip to the wondrous isles of Batanes. From that trip sprung a longer essay eventually published in the travel section, then edited by Chato Garcellano, of the Philippine Daily Inquirer and included in the essay collection Catholic and Emancipated (UST Publishing House, 2011).

The smaller photos I have given away to friends as mementos so they can be encouraged to explore the northernmost province in their own time. It seems to be in nearly everyone's bucket list.

I put the poem in this blog so it won't go missing again.

Photo source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Batanes_Hills.png   
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