(For Consul Eva Betita, February 8, 2006)
It was that night in Kaneohe.
The crisp air told me of signs and symbols
From the leaves carpeting the cement floor.
We swept the dirt into our pockets
To hide the fears lurking as we sang
Our litany of woes, we exiles all
From our homeland, from our selves.
We talked of the living language
That captured forgiveness for leaving
The heartland in the empires of our minds.
That cannot be, you said, in terms stronger
Than the sea waves, down here in the Waikiki,
Fiercer than in Manila bay and the seas
Surrounding us, owning our souls.
We could have asked you to stay,
Linger on, stay longer, stay put.
But the truth of returning awaits you,
There in fringes of hope and its lack,
In the country close to our chest,
The country which is us,
We who have come here to stay
A bit longer, always hoping
To go back the way you do now
And dream again about rainbows
Getting into our coffee still warm,
Or tea promising healing.
We talked about possibilities
As we partook of the meal
A professor offered to bless your leaving,
You said you will not return
Except in the hills and mountains
Of memory, rich and full,
Redemptive and real
Like our laughter.
We say goodbye. But this is for now.
Our roads will meet somehow
In the poetry
Of our souls seeking each other
In the early morning hours.
There we meet up and say hello.
There we meet up and hold hands
In the eternity of kindnesses and loves,
Plural as ever, reserved for the reunion
Of our hearts in Honolulu,
In the vicinities of the country
Saved by our desires,
Drunken and delicate,
Dedicated and devoted
In the way all mothers love.
(First recited on Feb. 8; recited with the Ilokano original on February 9,2006 at the Empress Restaurant, on Maukanea, Hon, HI)