IT IS the early morning hours as I write these thoughts.
Some wee hours have weaned us away from the grim and dim thoughts of a poet passing on, and we can only pray now, admitting that even a poet with a great ability to weave words out of nothing would have to give way to the call of the Infinite one day.
It is a call to something else, and it is something else because it is not of the mundane any longer.
Well, not in the mundane that we know now, but possibly another kind of the mundane somewhere else, some time else, with time and place collapsing, fusing, oneing.
I think of the vocation of a poet, and I think of Manong Reynaldo Duque who has passed on.
His was death on Easter time, the second Sunday of easter.
This is the magical in a poet: the ability to touch people, to touch souls, to touch lives.
Some of those he has touched he would never come to know.
Because his vocation is to seek the fulfillment of the mystical power of words, of language, in short, of poetry.
It is the mystical power that begins in a tease, the image or thought becoming a teaser, and the ascent to the mountain of recognition, revelation, and remembrance, and there, at the top of mountain, see the world and life more fully in the round.
When a poet dies, his body goes into a descent from his own mountain of the beautiful.
He becomes dust.
He becomes earth.
He becomes soil.
He becomes water.
He becomes air.
He becomes wind.
In some sort of way, he becomes element, elemental--the elements themselves.
And the inert matter of his mortal self, that finite self, becomes wind that we inhale, air that we breathe, water that we drink, and then without us knowing, we share in the mortal and the finite in him, and inaugurate our immortality and infinitude as well.
Because now, in this new life of his, he has become infinitude, a partaker of Infinitude.
Somewhere in time, in the history of ideas, a philosopher has talked about the 'the great chain of being'.
This is the great chain of being: the coming into life, and the returning into Life.
Among Ilokano writers, they have evolved a phrase to account this difficult passing on, and yet to accept it as well with great humility before the Infinite: Gumil Langit.
Understood simply, it is the association of all Ilokano writers who have gone to be beyond, and there, in that great somewhere, continue to be responders to the call of writing, to the call of Ilokano literature, to the call of Ilokano poetry.
Somewhere in my youth, I have this big dream, well, an ambition, of starting a project on the biography of Ilokano poets, a biography beyond their authorization to immortalize the context of their writing, the milieu of their reflecting, and the subtext of their poeticizing.
Of the many poets I have had the chance to know, Manong Rey Duque was one of those whose rise to his work was coupled by the desire to get past a hard memory he never wanted to forget but instead plumbed in order to turn into what could be called an obra maestra.
I have seen him battle with his demiurgus, the demon of every creative and great poet.
And I have seen him turn this demiurgus into a willing muse that had inspired him to write more and more and continuously, even writing a novel in Ilokano when he died.
A writer leaves behind his body of work.
That is what makes him cheat death, mortality, and finitude.
That is how we will know him forever, in the eternity of Time.
April 8, 2013