Friday, January 30, 2015

Waterhole and Other Poems

"I walked the bridge to its far end and beyond,
And down the river to the sea I cast my pole.
It was a fight I fought, it was no longer game,
And it was neither fish nor dream I caught."

Dr Abe V Rotor 
Living with Nature - School on Blog
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid with Ms Melly C Tenorio
738 DZRB AM, 8 to 9 evening class Mon to Fri


Memories come easy on this foot bridge
Many years ago I built across a stream,
Stream in monsoon and pond in summer,
Alug, as the old folk call it – waterhole.

It was my waterhole, I saw the world in its water;
Images of airplanes cruising, birds migrating,
Clouds in many patterns, many faces and hues,
The arena of wit and skill, fishing for hours.

And fishing not for fish but dreams,
Dreams about far places, of beautiful things,
Dreams almost real, even as they fade away
In ripples and into the dusk.

One day I woke up and found my waterhole
Swallowed up by floodwater from the hills.
Washing away the air castles I built,
And down its path it took summer away forever.

I walked the bridged to its far end and beyond,
And down the river to the sea I cast my pole.
It was a fight I fought, it was no longer game,
And it was neither fish nor dream I caught.  


When I was a boy I would walk the empty fields
       when harvest was over
And watch the maya glean on the leftovers
       like the old women
In the paintings of Millet and Brueggel
       which inspired Amorsolo
To paint the ricefields with the richness
       of Rembrandt’s colors.

And I would roll up the straw mulch
       and catch the aestivating frogs,
Now brown instead of green for they mimicked
       the surrounding they were hiding in:
Geometric deep cracks where the soil
       was fertile and rich in humus,
For they yielded larger and fatter catch.

And I knew the alug, the depression
       where the water receded,
Harboring dalag encrust in its muddy deep
       ready to spring to life
With the crayfish and snail and catfish
       likewise ensconced,
When the first true rain comes in May
       or April if monsoon is early,
I, too, would doze on my pet carabao lazily browsing,
       its body as lean as the plants in summer.

Then the afternoons became cooler each day,
       the dragonflies hovered lower and in hordes.
Distant thunder were heard getting closer and closer –
     Until the winds hissed
And the whole sky fell into downpour.

The fields began to wake up from deep slumber
       and I knew summer is over.
Fallow is a season of reflection, an experience
       shall always remember. ~

Ann, Leo and Matt, are they?

Could you be as serious as your looks,
     Or as weird as your thoughts?
Could you be my children,
     Or those of a beast or alien?

Mask, mask, mask,
     You hide the truth
Like the rind of a fruit.


Mount the cariton, my father wouyld say,
     When it was harvestime ,
And I would go and get our palay share,
     But the joy is in the ride, the fields,
And talking to the beast like Daniel,
     Or Hercules at times.    

The sugar cane and yam on the way
     thinned every time I passed,
The wild pigeons were getting shy
     every time I missed with my slingshot;
But not the maya,
     they came by army and were not afraid,
Even if the cariton had not had any greasing
     for some time.

I kept sentry on my rama until the mudfish,
     ar-aro, gurami, and catfish
Were big enough, or the water had receded,
     whichever came first.

The cariton was my chariot and truck,
     my canoe in monsoon flood,
My spaceship to the stars, my traveling home;
     jute sacks were also for mat;
A clay pot on three stones made a kitchen,
     plates of banana leaves.

My bolo was knife, shovel, saw, weapon
     that go with the cariton.
There was no computer then but Labang,
     the bullock knew the lipit very well,
Giving me confidence to sleep and to dream,
     waking up only at my destination,
Or when he gives the signal, kicking off flies,
     or snorting against smudge
Trained against our trees to flower
     early or on time.

Years, many years had passed, and I,
     with this story to pass on
To my children dreaming on my lap
     listening to it more like a tale,
Said, “It is true, but that was many,
     many years ago.”
One day in a museum I saw something
     for whatever reason.
 “Look, there!” I gathered my children.
     It is an old, old cariton. ~

                          Transience of Childhood 
                                                        Painting (15.5 ft x 5 ft) by AV Rotor

This is a beautiful world to the young,

Faces grow on clouds and kites fly high,
In kaleidoscope against the setting sun. 
The trees sing and nests sweetly cry.

If for all the fish and the Siberian breeze, 
The fields are still, save a songbird,
The clock comes to a stop in hammock’s ease -
But a chime yonder is urging to be heard.

Not enough is summer, transient is the game; 
It starts with glee and ends with a sigh,
And childhood ends. But never is the aim 
Of the sky to make the little ones cry.

Freud and Thoreau – these great minds foresaw
What makes a man, the child of years ago,
Sitting by the pond or climbing on a bough,
His kite rising to heaven’s glow.

Painting presented to Mayor Jose Tabanda III by Dr. Abercio V. Rotor,
as a remembrance of happy childhood, the impressions of which are indelible
even to those who are far away from their beloved hometown. May 23, 2005

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