THE LONG ARM OF THE NIGHT, THIS
[For a brother who survived the Merida, Ormoc City, Yolanda storm surge but lost 20 members of his family. Here, he speaks, and I am retelling his story of grief. Grieve, brother, and live.]
It was the long arm of the night in Merida.
The wall of water came too soon, its hands
Reaching out even to the chamber of fear
In their hearts, and in one full sweep,
Twenty of them, my family, went with the current,
Their call for help going with the raging sea.
How do you count the tears for memories
Lost forever, irretrievable now that laughter
Is no longer possible by the foot of our mountain?
My mother will recount what that night was,
And she will forever recall how her children were
Wrapped in this Yolanda fear we never knew.
We could have run to the mountain top,
But the night was an abyss too, one of darkness
We also never knew, inviting us to remain
By our thatch-roofed homes and there welcome
The storm and its promise of a stranger of a surge
We also never knew. How could we have not known
What death was, as it knocked on our door?
It came with the whistling wind, and here, from where I am
I could have said the prayer to scare it off.
And yes, I did, but it never went away
Not knowing where to go except to bring with it
All that breathes, all that can sing, all that can cry.
And now we are left to remember what life
Was in Merida, this place where I heard
Singing in the night, seen dancing in the rain
And where loves came doubly eternal.
I will leave sad Merida for safer places.
Merida will never leave me for safer places.
Nov 18, 2013