(For Inez and Manang Precy, kindred spirits)
The chant came in a crescendo of high notes,
A lyric lost in some G-clef we forget when
We cry rivers to purge our fingers of remembered touch
Haunting us so in twilights and in young evenings
We wait up to talk, talk, and tell our stories
To save ourselves from perdition, this false sense
Of hope we keep longer than necessary in words
Now alien to the ear that knows how to listen
To the music of loving and communing
With spirits guiding our hand in tracing
The fears that hide in kitchen shelves
And living rooms that know the secrets
Of wise women in their tricks of truth-making,
This truth for real because redeeming.
We make memories so: in the tears that go
With the singing and the crying and the sobbing
And the democracy of pain and sorrow
That does not harass us any longer.
We have become us, saviors of ourselves
And you told us how to take back the same route
To pain without the yoke of crosses we do not deserve.
You both take back the glory of witnessing:
You say the prayer that drives away the spirits
That do not know our name, our aim.
It was that power of the words coming alive
From your lips, curled in cadence and sense.
The mouth of chanters of old, singing songs
The ancestors know to heal the world
Of wounds, the heart of calluses, the spirit
Of scars to permit the cleansing to come.