Glass Cases


A great unknown gave birth
to more unknowns at the heart
of the Tabon Caves, where a pebble
is not just a pebble,
not just opaline or chert,
but axes and adzes. To cut, scrape
or sharpen wood, to stab, skin,
or chop some meat, to survive
above waves of ferns.

Two human forms sit in a boat.
One paddles behind the other,
whose hands are folded on the chest,
both unafraid, dignified, at the top
of the magnificent Manunggul Jar.
Ever wonder what clay and fine sand,
mixed and molded into pots,
coffins, cups, bowls,
say about our hands, our afterlife,
the lies we found, our present fires?

Tanged daggers, bolos, spears.
Metals become memories, not myths.
They see jade, glass and shells,
maybe twigs and seeds;
and we see just bracelets and beads.
We were one with the earth then,
and India arrived in shadows: the golden
figurine of a deity, a clay medallion,
a godlike image in Brooke’s Point.

Maybe life ends and begins in dearth.
It is what we do when a fish is too small
for two and all of us wander for years
in the dark, like famished beasts.


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