Bus Ride to Iligan

This bus ride to Iligan is one for the moon.
It is a dream come true. You have made a pact

with yourself to see this city in the springtime
but you came during the dry spell when thoughts

do not come freely as they should.
It is two hours of seashore and mountain

and the leaves of bananas on hillsides turning in
to the afternoon sun as if palms outstretched

in prayer, cautious and serious for the falling
of rain at this early in the tiger's year.

The news of recent murder reaches us
in whispers. This is not Ampatuan, you see.

It is the place of people longing to be free
from the all the burdens of the everyday

from the dull propositions of greatness
we have never seen, not in the wretched

life of beasts who are us running after
what riches there can be from taking

the pilgrimage to one city after another
until you lose your sense of meaning.

Some thirty years ago you had always
wanted to come here. You were a man

of God then, or one purported going
through the motions of becoming one.

But you never had the chance, you see.
there are covert operations even in Heaven

among priests as amorous as a jilted lover
with one hand in that altar of the holy

with another in the altar of the flesh.
So to Iligan, here I come. I search for

cathedrals in cities where I go,
small churches too and people

with the intention of bringing out
the best in all that bus rides give

on roads to alibis and half-truths.
Iligan, you know now, is a prayer come true.

Iligan City, the Philippines

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