A Conjectural Poem by Flor Contemplacion

One | Two | Three | Four | Five

 

1

I am a night

hunting for stars

 

in this cell

my coffin, too

 

a pot of dust

diffused to the plazas

of Singapore

of Laguna

of Manila

of different cities

inside and outside

of my country, the Philippines

 

dust

became salt

of thousands of existences

 

face and flesh

of numerous periodicals

images diverting

hours and space

from a million televisions and radios

 

shocked

by paired eyes and ears

blinded

deafened

by screams

snarls

cries

groans

violence

to the children and young women split

by their fathers

cleaved

by foreigners

in the shadow of marriage

in the shade of dollars

in the promised

quiet nap

 

I am a night

hunting for stars

 

 

2

I am a night

without a last supper

 

in this cell

my home and my court

 

a tongue forked

by loyalty

to self

to family

to country

 

behold

dripping

from my split tongue

words covered by blood and tears

words shaped

by conjecture and belief

the viand of my confidence

the rice of my fears

the soup of my sadness

and later

the punishment, they say, for

my crime

 

mapped in my mind

the sin

to dream

to dream

rice I did not steam

viand I did not cook

food I need not work for

before ingesting

no need

to clean up

after I ate

 

and there is no one to scold me

and I need not be ashamed

 

I am a night

without a last supper
 

 

3

I am a night

which does not pass by Pilate

 

arraigned

by accusation

by promise

by need

 

still buried in my throat

the forefingers

pointing

while swinging

in the pupil of sight

the rope

the rope

the rope

empty as it descended

but instantly it ascended

with my lifeless body

 

images that

cannot be erased

clinging

to the mind

clasped

to the heart

clamped

to the feet

 

persisting

persisting

like

unpaid labor

service without gratuity

therefore

you wallow

in anxiety

 

like

a prostitute who clings to the arm and

shoulder of a man

she wants as a customer

 

refusing at first

 

then turning his back

 

afterwards

 

overcome by lust

she is used as relief

 

mapped out

in her skin

sticky kisses

devoured

the scab of affection

then heartlessly

went in and out

until

she is showered

with vile memories

 

she feels like vomitting

forcing back into the stomach

the intestines

 

then

suddenly

without a word

without permission

she is abandoned

 

testimonies paraded me

 

stripped

mocked

 

again

in school I am the child the teacher scolded

when I was caught not listening

a teenage girl spanked by my father

when I came home late

cursed at by mother

when I sauteed unsoftened mung beans

slapped by my older brother

at the first exchange of smiles with a male classmate

insulted by a wealthy classmate

because he said my sweat stinks

forced to kneel on salt

at my first truancy

 

I am a night crying

at the first flow of blood between my legs

scared that it was perhaps a sin

 

time cannot crush

the memory

moving

pulsating

existing

living

always

always

trembling

shaking

my humanity

 

I am a night

which did not pass by Pilate

 

 
4

I am a night

in Golgotha

 

hanging

in wait

 

darkness

the shroud

in the lashes of wind

and whip of accusations

 

I remember

 

I wished to become deaf

when he insisted

I

I

killed my friend

 

I wished to be bald

when my hair was violently snatched

by iron fingers

 

in the strands

the force emerged

when he tossed me around

like a pillow

effortlessly

slammed against the wall

like a pillow

effortlessly

hurled again and again

like a pillow

effortlessly

 

only then I saw myself

next to the chair

my face clinging to the table

flattened against the corner

 

I wished to become numb

when my arms again and again

bound

like the wringing

in the final rinse of the wash

when my shoulder

grabbed

shaken

like the wringing

in the final rinse of the wash

I wished to become a corpse

when again and again

shattered by lashes

guarded by punches

showered by strikes

like laundering stained wash

soaped, scrubbed, pounded

 

blood wants to ooze

from my wounds

I refuse because maybe

it is illegal to litter

my mind boils

it will explode it seems

unexpectedly

 

I am a night

in Golgotha

a lamb between

two criminals

Singapore and the Philippines

lawyer and consul

dream and children

 

Oy, although you have now arrived in Singapore

You now have something to wager in Laguna

Your husband is still unfaithful

You are still a servant it will not change

 

The bars are tatooed on your face

Although you are deported to the Philippines

 

I

I

 

I am a night

in Golgotha

 

 

5

I am a night

of resurrection

 

I parted the darkness

in the resting coffin

arisen

I

even without promises

walked

even without life

visited the roads

of Singapore

of Manila

of Laguna

of Davao

and of different cities

inside and outside

of my country, the Philippines

 

a box

skin and bones

resurrected

by newspapers

supported

by anger

the cause

of thousands of clenched fists

a box

ash

splattered

on the face of placards

on computer screens

in the speeches of legislators

 

became the sparks of anger

became an election issue

became the poison of wind

 

How many congressmen rode on my coffin?

How many donations were pocketed by my unfaithful husband?

How many witnesses appeared only to become famous?

Did my children bereave over me?

Were they sincere? Were they sincere?

 

my coffin became a canoe

my corpse used as a paddle

I was

given life

awakened

bought

sold

being sold

 

prostituted

prostituting

(by) the issue

(by) the story

(by) the remains

 

(they say) in the name of truth

(they say) in the name of justice

(they say) in the name of honor

 

I parted the darkness

in the resting coffin

arisen

I

even without promises

walked

even without life

visited the roads

of Singapore

of Manila

of Laguna

of Davao

and of different cities

inside and outside

of my country, the Philippines

 

I am a night

of resurrection