Ritual for Leaving


(For Grace and Juaniyo)

Go now, and go at noon
When this city shall stand
Intense in the light,
Equal to your silent grief.

There are many ways of taking leave:
Even when we choose to be dumb
Our bodies, hands, feet, senses,
Motion their own speeches as we go numb
Gathering things to pack from room to room
Or weaving the streets and boulevard
After the usual beer at sundown.

It is easier to leave
In the middle of day —
The view from the port, postcard-pretty,
Accented by kitchen smoke
And blooming acacia trees—
An ordinary scene on an October day
Which will probably be the same
When you come back: a strange assurance
Of infinities or that something
We call indestructible.

Marjorie Evasco is a SEAWRITE 2010 awardee of the Philippines and an NCCA Ani ng Dangal 2011 awardee. Five of her books have won the Manila Critics’ Circle National Book Awards: for poetry [Dreamweavers and Ochre Tones]; for oral history [Six Women Poets: Inter/Views, co-authored by Edna Zapanta-Manlapaz]; for biography [A Life Shaped by Music: Andrea O. Veneracion and the Philippine Madrigal Singers]; and for art [Ani: The Life and Times of Hermogena Borja Lungay: Boholano Painter]. Her poetry books in English and Spanish translations by Latin American poets are Skin of Water and Fishes of Light/ Peces de Luz [co-authored by Alex Fleites]. She contributed poetry in groundbreaking anthologies like Agam: Filipino Narratives of Uncertainty in Climate Change [2015], and Sustaining the Archipelago: Philippine Ecopoetry Anthology [2018]. She edited an anthology of memoirs, The Bohol We Love [2017], which was a finalist in the 2017 National Book Award for anthology in English. She also published the biography Valentina’s Valor: Stories of the Life and Times of Valentina Galido Plaza [2018]. An advocate of literary development in the Visayas and Mindanao, particularly in creative writing in Binisaya and English, she has served as director and panelist in various workshops. She also serves as resource person of Bohol’s literary heritage. She is Outstanding Sillimanian Awardee for Creative Writing in 2008, and is a Regular Panelist at the Silliman University National Writers Workshop.