• Song from the Mountain Quarries

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    (For the Displaced Lumads)

    Listen to them whimper with the wind:
    “We were here even before the hunters,
    Scorched dry even before the rivers
    Have caked into mud, molted into mire.
    We will be here till time decrees our end.”
    “Estábamos aqui antes de oro
    En las casas de los ladrones;
    Entonces, según de principio
    Y vergüenza, vamos a sierras;
    Porque no? Ellos están Viejas.”
    Not all the lust for life, gold and its lustre
    In this pretend paradise-regained matter.
    They were there even before hoary time
    Stood still currying to man’s sad fantasies
    Of earning back his purloined happiness.
    “Estábamos aqui antes de oro
    En las casas de las malditas;
    Entonces, según de principio
    Y vergüenza, vamos a sierras;
    Porque no? Ellos están Viejas.”
    Arid now, the mountain bent at its knees
    Will turn to desert yet, and its hunger
    Will be fed by sand clusters ripped by wind
    That has brought fire burning their homes
    long nurtured by mute mountain valleys.
    “We were here before the gold
    In those houses of the evil ones;
    Of course, as a matter of principle
    And shame, we go to the mountains;
    Why not? They have become venerable.”
    “So have our unsheathed kris. They are as old.”

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