By Anthony L. Tan
Greener of foliage, darker of bark,
Wider the spread of branches,
You were a struggling sapling
When first I sought refuge under your shade.
You’ve weathered tropical depressions
And the scudding rains of thunderstorms.
Battered by winds and seasonal typhoons,
You have not cracked like the seawall.
Other trees, not you, in secluded forests
Have fallen in the whirr of chainsaws.
The only signs of outrage are the ex-votos
Curved heart-shaped round your gnarled bole.
No longer needing your shade for my head,
Though my sore heart needs shelter from life-storms,
I have come with one foolish wish: Perchance,
Through sudden shower of pink-white blossoms
You would deign whisper to me
The mysteries of your charmed life.
Anthony L. Tan was born in Siasi, Sulu. He earned his BA English from the Ateneo de Zamboanga in 1968 and went on to Silliman University in Dumaguete City for both his MA Creative Writing (1975) and PhD. in British Literature (1982). For more than a decade he taught at the English Department of Silliman University and was a regular member of the panel of critics at the Silliman University National Writers Workshop. In 1983, he joined the faculty of the English Department at MSU-Iligan Institute of Technology and became one of its chairpersons in 1984-85. Together with Jaime An Lim and Christine Godinez Ortega, he helped organize the first Iligan National Writers Workshop/Literature Teachers Conference in 1993. He retired from teaching in 2012. He has won a number of awards for his writings, among them the Focus Philippines award for poetry, the Palanca 1st prize for “Poems for Muddas” (1993) and another Palanca for the essay. His poems and stories have been published locally and abroad, more prominently in the prestigious Atlanta Review and Manoa, the literary journal at the University of Hawaii. He is the author of two books of poems titled The Badjao Cemetery and Other Poems (1985) and Poems for Muddas (1996).