I miss both of them so much. My heart bleeds in pain. My sorrow is deep. Their loss is too much too bear. I am alone. Lilian de Vera, on the death of her husband Jun and young daughter, Lia, in the hands of policemen. From an email that is going around, April 12, 2009, Easter Sunday
Dear Lilian de Vera:
Jun de Vera's name is about truth.
Vera is a last name that completes
the sentences we utter to word our lack
the vacuities we keep deep in our heart.
It is also Lia's, your darling daughter
of sweet lingering laughter
and of joyful promises of care
when your hair is white
and you knees can no longer carry
the weight of your years.
The Vera name remains those
of her father and his daughter
the two the recent reminders
of what justice is in our land,
their bodies riddled with bullets
blinded in the heat of the tropical homeland
and so like our callused selves do not see
at a time, in a December like this one,
is a season of sad extremes
when all you can have is to beg for mercy
shout amidst the maniacal zing of guns
shot to please stop the murder of our dreams.
You both could have been blessed, you say,
Lilian, say it in your silence even
as you stand by, your word lost in the world
as you embrace their cold bodies
riddled with this puzzle of untimely death
even as you speak with them in the silence
of that unspeakable grief only women know
women who are wives and mothers
women who are offerers of stories that heal
our land, this bloodied land
that gives us all these ultimate horrors
we cannot define, not now, in these months
that we hear of the advent of song and mystery.
We say to your husband:
Your wife was there in the Church of Nazarene
the black man-god, miraculous as he is
staring at all the tired faces
staring at your wife's vow to keep coming
in his wake, tend to your death
touch your sorrowing countenance
she cannot reach
and kiss your marble of black feet
some have kissed a thousand times
before her turn to stand up
from bended knees.
What was it that came into
that belief, hers, and the need for prayers
and that begging for grace
just one more grace?
The report says of the complicity
of lying killers whose deeds are familiar
they could be our country's daily stories.
It was them, the police people
whose jobs we keep
whose lives we sustain
whose protecting hands we protect
so they can keep going with their business
of assuring us of our capacities to forgive
our desire to forget
but not these twin murders!
How could we forget except
to be rattled, pissed, come to griefs
when while you prayed, Lilian,
they preyed upon the innocent body
of Lia your daughter in her young years
her laughter your mother's grace,
your sweet, sweet grace?
How could we forget except to
fight back, fight this impunity we call
a jungle's law or its lack in the hands
of uniformed killers, them to whom we entrust
the outlines of our first joys
the temporary sketches of our dreams
the structure of our colorful happiness?
No, you have got the opposite:
the ping of bullets whizzing by
and felling Jun to the bloodied ground
and felling Lia to his pierced body
their breath coming together
in that last rite of communion, one hand
on her face, his other hand on her lips
ssshh-ing her, telling her heaven
is just near, the heaven they will go to
the heaven you will be absent
you, Lilia of our nightmares,
in a long, long time yet
not when this fight has just begun
not when this call for vigilance
against those who protect us
is one call we have to do at last.
You say you will learn to live
without them: please do.
Your knees know the shape
of fears and tears and faith,
your body knows what goodness
is even as your mourning
is what will keep you awake.
We send you our prayers:
the wind knows where to go
the spirit of the sun will reach
you so that with the warm
of the sun and the breeze
you will see Jun and Lia a hundredfold
in the victory you will behold.
Go with the sun, then,
go with the blessing of the crescent
moon and under its light
call out to Jun and Lia
and tell them to go the way of angels
of the light, the one final light.
A Solver Agcaoili
Hon, HI/Apr 13/09