FULL BIRTHDAY, YOURS
(for Manang Perlita Ragirag Tapec)
Full birthday, yours. Indeed, a thousand suns
shining through and sending their message
of spring warmth to our hearts gone cold.
The fall has just left, and here comes
the ritual of our rebirthing, the earth all smiles.
Sometimes we forget what is to be remembered,
and we remember what needs to left alone
to dismember, like the parts of an endless hope.
On this your birthday, we all have come,
retell the story once again, its beginnings
one of flowers in polychrome,
their colors about to riot, like their petals, about to burst,
bloom, and beyond those that we continue
to push for the story’s middle part
to come about.
Is it your eternal song that comes to us
today, tonight and forever, keeping us company
as we keep the faith that like the seed on the ground
braving storms and rains and floods,
it remains there, bold, daring, and looking
to the daybreak, that one ray of light
in the early morning hours when you go past
all that were hungered by the long night,
the food offering you have in the hand,
and telling to that old man by his place
that does not move, that here, here is grace
like this birthday of yours, full, whole, blessed?
I have come to witness birthdays,
in the future as in the past, and yours,
like time refusing the hours,
like time challenging the years,
will come soon again, one more time,
another time, in between our laughters
and grief, there shall be one more time.
There shall be one more time.
Like seed sprouting on the ground,
there shall be one more time.
There shall be another time.
Keep the rosary beads dangling on your rearview
mirror: you will see friends counting the reflections
of leaves, twigs, branches. The sea is just yonder.
And so are the fields of our coming ‘round and ‘round,
of doing the circle, conjoining the edges of our days.
It is prayer that has made us.
And full birtdays we celebrated for each other,
our song the matin of your new moon, new morn.
FOR A YOUNG BOY AT FOUR
(For Joachin Padre)
Must have been four years, your coming around,
like coming to town, strutting like our prince
in these parts.
This a place of kings, you see.
This is a place of princes and princesses, you see,
and there you are, Joachin Padre, with big, big smile
on screen and off, the sun shining in your big round eyes.
We saw you the first time in swaddling clothers,
a baby in a better manger, but an infant indeed.
You are a blessing, Joachin Padre.
And you will know.
Must have been your mom, having been good in her youth.
Must have been your dad, having been good in his childhood.
The merry song reminds us: Nothing, indeed, comes from nothing,
And today, at your birthday, we can only recall best
Your first cry.
Must have been a beautiful world, Joachin Padre.
It is away now from your ancestors’ towns, from Bacarra
to Paoay so that here, under the light of a thousand stars,
you get to be our prince. Finally.