Gemino Abad

(05 February 1939 / Cebu / Philippines)

Imaginary Letter To My Twin Sons - Poem by Gemino Abad

Dear Davie, Dear Diego
I am on an island called Oahu.
Here there are many white people, they are called Haules.
There are also Japanese, Chinese, Filipinos.
I have seen the fields of sugar cane
Where the Ilocanos worked when they first came over.
How poor they must have been and lonely;
No one could follow their speech to their own island home.

There are very few native Hawai’ians;
Their words which are the names of streets and buildings
Outnumber them. “How could happen this be?”
A long time ago, they had a queen, but soldiers came from America
And took away her throne, and then all the land.
Those who fought were killed, and then many more died
Because they did not know the diseases that the soldiers brought –
They were never so sick before on their island.

But it is a beautiful island
Perhaps because nature’s story is so different from ours.
Trees and mountains and falls and beaches are her speech.
And perhaps, because our own story is dark,
We see only half her beauty, and only dream of good will and peace.
I cannot fathom the human sadness that infects our sense for beauty.

Let me just tell you now
About the Chinese banyan tree by my window.
Tonight it is my father because his love
Was like a great tree, but without speech.
Every morning on that banyan tree
Many species of birds are in full throat,
So that now I wonder: would my sons, years from now,
Gather from a tree’s silence my own heart’s affection,
And in that moment know that once, while I made their world,
I had deeply wished, when they shall have left that world behind,
I would be the tree to their morning?


Poet's Notes about The Poem

Taken from 'In Ordinary Time'

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Poem Submitted: Monday, May 14, 2012



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