(For Erlinda Adviento, a wife who died from domestic violence, October 28, 2007)
You cannot read this poem any longer.
Nor hear it recited with some fervor and fire
the way I would when rage sets in the heart
of my words. The phrases I seek seek me as well
and the seeking comes complete: you are dead
and here we all are alive and kicking and seeing
that which is difficult to see.
What anger, what is its name, is in the blade
that he used to snuff out the life in your pleadings,
a thousand of them I hear now, loud and clear
even as in these parts the waves muffling your shrieking
speak of afternoon romance you could have remembered?
As is the case, you heard the promises:
that it would not happen again,
this flesh on flesh with an open wound on yours in the end.
Or that terror in the blade of sentences that comes
with his terror of his own making. You could have seen
the fear in those eyes and the abandon,
his and yours, and then the telltale signs of repairing
that which is broken like a china's delicate look, for instance,
or its hidden charm. Which you were, as he could have said
in between the giving acts of loving when the world is sober
and alert and capable of redeeming you.
But the story of harm comes in refrain,
as if in a sad song, some wailings we could hardly hear
even if in the silence we hear the need for mercies,
a thousand of them, as the bruises tell of more
that are yet to come. You said, I can take things as they come
and we believed you until today
as you lay dying or dead or demeaned.
How can we ever say goodbye to you, sister
to our own secret pains? We are men, too,
and we see what is in the healing or its rite.
Perhaps the prayer to ask for indulgence
would make us go through as we watch you go
back to where you have come from in the first place,
to the land of your double so you can call out
to our people, ask for that one final act of love
for all wives like you, for all husbands like us.
A Solver Agcaoili
UH Manoa/Nov 9, 2007