From a call this early morning, June 29, 2011, a migrant dies alone of heart attack at his rented place somewhere in the West Coast. He was a spouse's classmate years back, and he will come home, in a coffin or in an urn, either way, as the law and money permit. This is a poem to honor his life, and to honor his sacrifice. Rest in peace, co-pilgrim in the United States of America, and in life. Go in peace.
Your death is familiar.
It is every person of this homeland
Trying to make sense of what exile
Can bring to those wishing
To make amends with what
We all can change. We make
Vagabonds of ourselves,
Our deep and dark desires to
To witness what can be seen
From other places, like
Winter giving in to spring
With the all-color flowers,
Wild and in technicolor abandon
Carpeting the hills and mountains
Of our dreams to climb life's peaks
To reach the pinnacle we have not
Been too and seeing from there
What can be seen from the heights
What is deprived of us from below.
We walk through the same path,
Peregrine people that we are
Making sense of this non-sense
That we do to eke out a life
Or what passes for one, in places
We do not know but we dare go.
You died alone with your dream
And this makes us grieve for you
Even as we grieve for ourselves.
We inherited a land that pushes us
To other shores, driving us crazy
To go find the stump of the rainbow,
Like this tree that grows dollars
On twigs, stems, and trunks
As if all we do is pick the monies
Dump these into our knapsack and send
Them all to our home and country.
What could have been the last hours
Of your mortal life? Did you cry for
Help one last time? Did you remember
The names of your children and the sad
Smile of your awaiting wife?
You are a memory now, and if you were
Ilokano, you could have become
An atang, the food offering we give
To all the dead we still remember
To all the dead we have begun to forget.
What were the streets of exile looked like
The lonely paths you walked on and on
To look for that one fat chance of a job
You could never get? To hide, and hide,
And hide, in a land you are not from
Is one story without any beginning.
But is a story that does not last,
As it ends in dying by your lonesome
Like you did to us, dying on us,
And dying without telling us
What is it to live alone and away
And from the far reaches of where you have gone,
Tell us what is it to have a holiday with your
Blankets covering your body to forget
The meaning of laughter and fun.
Go now, go in the peace of life.
Go where dreams come into fruition
Where life is complete, and the hiding
Becomes temporary as in our fight to run,
Run where salvation finally is ours.
June 29, 2011