SONG BETWEEN WARS

12 June 2009

Nick Joaquin
(1947)

Wombed in the wounds of war
grow golden boys and girls
whose green hearts are
peacocks perched upon apes
and pigs that feed on pearls
or sour grapes.

But we are old–we are only
a point, a pause
in the earth’s decay–we are
lonely
but no day dies
in the eyes we dare not close
lest we flock with flies.

Bankrupt by war,
let us mine the honey
that’s ored in udders that are
this lad, that lass,
because they are molten money
and their bones are cash.

Imperial their coin still is
when other currencies are
imperilled; when peace
is for every man and woman
a labyrinth; and war
the bull that’s human.

War is the Minotaur
and we are the waters
bearing for him to devour
the young, the beautiful–
our sons and daughters:
the tax we pay to the Bull.

The maze we made they shall
travel,
its winding ways unwind
and the riddle unravel
till they come to the end of
the thread:
the labyrinth behind
and the Beast ahead.

Man of Earth
Ateneo de Manila University Press
1989

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