For Emmanuel Lacaba, who died in combat, and Jason Montana who fights on.
Where blends the cane leaves with mist and rain
Blends the shadow and the movement,
Each defining courage from fear, fear from pain.
“It is the touch of skin or harsh point of crag
Makes the warrior brother to the rock,
It is crag offers the question between life and slug.”
The stillness between the lads numb with song
And rifles stocked shapes the crackle of campfire
Blending with rustle of grass and night stretched long
By the wordless grief of a valley’s muffled groan.
“Bless the valley’s darkness, brothers of song,
Its pall fallen on grey lips, its silence on a moan.”
The night’s benediction is a promise of dawn.
Dawn is red on this ruddy face
Sun dogging his craggy trail,
The song deep in his throat:
“The last best fight, my brother;
Our blood on the tip of steel!”
Brother to the pulsing spring,
To the bushes and rocks, the wrath
Of days, of quietness descending.
“The last good fight, my brother;
Our blood on the open trail.”
A song arrested in his throat,
The steel tensile in grace,
His still point is a point of steel.
(First published in the Asia-Philippines Leader)