The Golden Calf (from “The Island”)

There was talk in the market that morning
of the bombing of Manila
and so I collected the rice and tomatoes
swiftly, and passed by the church
with a prayer, a quick touch of my fingers
to the Santo Rosario and to my lips
the church will be full tomorrow
when they begin to count
the bodies of the dead
I crossed the road and by the sea
found the little shop where they sold trinkets
and postcards and photographs
such novelty that thoroughly enchanted me
and there still were the photographs
that they sold for women like me
the first was a photograph
of a man clean-shaven, the second
a man with a moustache
and the third, a man with a beard
I tapped the coin I had saved for some fish
to call the girl who was busy braiding her hair
and I gestured with a hand
at the photograph
of a man
soon there won’t be any of these left
when they begin to bury the dead
at home I opened all the windows and
sat on the bed in the light
in the gentle breeze and
song of the birds
in my hand the photograph
of a bearded man
to whom I prayed
that he returns
alive, to whom I implored
please come
back to me

Fatima Lasay, Quezon City
Thursday, July 10, 2014

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