Danza con la profesora, 1

For Manang Perting Asuncion. But you will never read this poem any longer.

And we danced, danced our troubles
away, two of us in that crowd

so early in the late afternoon of our
difficult lives. Together with the poets

of our people we invited ourselves
to come into your embrace

those hours of our renewed
desires to see you

come fully alive. We know you had those,
the cancer cells at stage four

gnawing at the quilt of goodness in your heart
eating up all the tropes you keep deep

in your mind, so secret and so public
we know you talked to the flowers

of your garden in Los Banos now
adorned with the gift of your love.

It is your poetry we have come for,
we say, in that holy hour we woke you up

from your siesta time, your brother, ours too,
the host of our drunken wishes to see you

once more, revisiting the rare seeing
that we give each other in delight

you with your fresh laugher,
us with the surprise we respond

to your sense of life. And then
we dance, just the two of us, first my steps,

nervously tentative against your writer's grace,
your baglan's ancient movement poised

as if you were a hill sanctified,
there to leave the offering of small graces

like a sarukang erect and tall before the light
turning purple and then dark amber

in that Bayombong of our singing
we did for the first time. There would

never be another time, this ceremony
of community, your verses into mine.

You will edit the dictionary, you say,
and I talk back: Do not police your language

do not censor the truths of what makes
our people procreate the belated blessings

of the gods we have kept hidden
from our pharisaical poet's lives.

No, you say, I keep the vibrant sentences
as well, the raw judgments of our more

knowing, more confident vision of pasts
to tell the next story of our people

with or without those who give us
the lock, the key to be thrown away

for us to kowtow to the approved
nouns, verbs, adjectives, and lies.

Hon, HI

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