Categories
Poetry

Cartography

For Andrew

1.

Say that there?s nothing left to plot
And everything has sprawled itself a horizon on a map,
From this time to this place, to this place to this time.
And our sympathies are the revelations that cross
The sections of whole hours and meridians.

Miles away, the Chico river flows in danger.
Its perpetuity threatened into a flooding.
We mourn the drowning of
the same river over and over.
Which will soon be merely a pooling of earth and water on a map.

How did we manage to navigate at a time
When lines on a map were merely rivers and Nara trees?
And the end and edge of property were limited by our ancestor?s sight?
The thought of boundaries were as permissible as osmosis
Of folklore and elder foresight.

The lines resolve in the city?s comfort.
You lie in bed, plotting Biliran
While attempting to arrest its flooding on a map.
Dreaming maps save us from dissolution.
Hoping for the uncharted left in the wake of Yolanda.

There?s something our maps have left to imagination.
A period of suspension where, here,
in the intermediary of thought and plot,
A bare life exists before the solidus:
Only potential, only possibilities, only hope away from home.

Outside, the hibiscus finally blooms.
I cut its flowers that we have anticipated
into their unfurling from bud to crimson then bud again.
We watch their fragile waning,
Relieving themselves of home and place.

Constantly in cusp, merely this bud.

2.

What begs for clarity
Is the fickle distance between
The outline of space and presence.
The widening margin.
The fog of a shadow.

What is swallowed by horizon?
Where do cliffs turn to edges?
When do edges begin roads?

I will take you to the city I grew up in
I will take you to the old stone market.
I will have you smell sights I once got lost in childhood.
There, the rowdy meat vendor.
There, the sunflowers inside bright plastic bins.
There, hangs the everlasting.
And soon the roads float these flowers down
A hill.

I will teach you to negotiate in my space.
I will teach you to haggle for thrifted clothes.
You will speak in between languages of yours and mine.
You will taste the sweetness of rice wine.
There, the old haunt of journalists.
There, the rumors of the city whispered in between the shots of gin.
You will learn the pains of old folks.
And mourn for the felling of the last pine.

Dearest,
These maps can?t reveal
the simultaneity of senses
from this singular view
On top of a mountain.

By Jose Kervin Cesar Calabias

Jose Kervin Cesar B. Calabias is an active member of the Baguio Writers Group, a writer?s collective based in Baguio City founded by the late national artist for literature, Cirilo F. Bautista. As an Igorot, his works narrate the personal history of his ili or home and community. His poems have been published in various literary journals, including the Ani: The Literary Yearbook of the Cultural Center of the Philippines. He is a faculty member from the literature department of the College of Liberal Arts of the De La Salle University in Manila where he teaches literature and arts.

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