At Camp Lookout


Fog haze, morning chill
chart our days:
linger under blankets,
breakfast at ten, then
ascend a weedy trail,
lift our faces to the sun,
the wind fancying our hair;
listen how the mountain sings:
bird calls, insects, wind
in the trees, billowing the grass,
the trickle of a hidden stream,
the sudden startle of wings!

Down in the sweltered plains
doll houses, offices, streets lost
in the toy towns with borders
blurred in the clustered trees;
bathtub boats streaking a silver sea,
curve of shoreline holding back
the deep; Siquijor, Sumilon, Cebu
breaking up its sparkle and sweep;
and at the airfield scarring the land
planes descending, taking off—
we’re here to escape them all.
How distant they all seem!

Late afternoon,
the monotone cricket song,
cicada wings shivering the air,
bats navigating the dusk.
Soon the firefly hour,
Night’s bright sentinels encamped in the sky.
Far below, the town lights blaze,
ship lights crawl their slow trails
across the blackened sea,
drop below the horizon,
fade, flicker, sink.

Drawn downward,
our thoughts turn home,
the lowlands closer than we think.

Myrna Peña-Reyes was born in Cagayan de Oro City, but her family moved to Dumaguete where she was educated at Silliman University from elementary through college, graduating with a BA in English. She went on to earn her MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Oregon. While a resident of Eugene, Oregon where she lived with her late husband, the poet William T. Sweet, she was a winner of the Oregon Literary Fellowship grant for poetry in 2002. Presently retired in her hometown of Dumaguete, she continues her volunteer affiliation with Silliman University’s literature and creative writing program. Her poetry collections include The River Singing Stone (1994), Almost Home: Poems (2004), and Memory’s Mercy: New and Selected Poems (2014).