(A woman from Tacloban, who lost all her four children during the super storm Haiyan, was asked how she is able to cope with her sorrow. She said, in the local language, “I dream only of the beautiful past, and continue the dream especially when I am awake because that is more important.”)
She sings lullabies never, never to forget what
seemed so long ago
And almost forever in her darkness;
how the lyrics speak of the laughter,
the youthful shrieks,
and the movement of a child while it was
in her womb. Where did they go?
Time is shattered pieces and silences.
Sleep can be so long it strides
under the sun no longer terrified
to waken while dreams waft her empty brain breathing
through her heart. She is alive this way.
She tells herself it is, indeed,
all a dream and then nothing
can hurt anymore.
Memory is not enough. She must dream.
To think back blursthe daylight of longing what is
more real than invented,
more vivid than imagined, more pure.
How one day and one night
are simply movements in her mind
she would not otherwise
survive the sufferance beyond
To dream if we can,
when we must, how a lamentation lifts
the wailing to a threshold no more to gnash the anger
or the grief. It will not be interrupted;
it will be overwhelming
enough to vanish the faceless moans,
to exit softly and dissolve
what binds us to our weakness,
what shapes our wandering sorrows.
To be lost and to be found,
to be there yet not there in the frame
of time and circumstance,
the dream dissolves it all.
Does she want to wake up?
Would any urgency end the dreaming?
Nothing exists except the world
her mind creates one piece at a time
because there is plenty of time to set the table,
wash the clothes and do
the daily feeding.
They may have suddenly disappeared but never
vanished in her invented space,
in that vast horizon of color, delight
and bliss. She occupies a silence,
endures the incomprehensible,
her eyes are windows of a shattered soul,
and she survives
in her unfathomable hurts, she dreams.
Her children will be playing, she says;
soon, they will be grown-up,
her narrative continues,
a story of a future lost and regained,
by choice and by intent,
shielding her with joyous beauty
from the ugliness of her past,
a soft smile on her luminous face.
* * *
Rita B. Gadi, Palanca awardee, National Centennial Epic Poem Awardee, former Editor of The Philippine Chronicle and Good Morning, Philippines, former broadcast journalist; now weaving words, still.
(Editor’s Note: We’re reprinting piece as the byline was unobtrusively omitted in the August 14, 2016 issue of STM. Our apologies.)