Returnings

 

I.
There is a voice
that flickers on and off,
on and off
like the underside
of a sparrow’s wings in flight—
barely perceptible
in the warm underfluff
which draws its heat
from the heart

There my voice nestles
and reveals itself
only when there is enough silence

Or manifests itself
through my hands
as I create

Listen? It is quiet as a baby’s breath
shallow, delicate, and deceiving;
it sustains me and
cannot be snuffed out

Because silence is the most
invincible presence

II.
My voice is the proclaimer of
my origin.

My origin is not a myth
but an earth-material, like the soil
from which the roots draw
moisture
which the rain deposited there—
after drawing the mist
from my breath

Not a myth
but a universe

The origin-al promise
of my brethren
was to disperse us
like seeds on the
Westward wind:
so we are here,
rooted in American soil

But what I cultivate
becomes the promise
of a new return

III.
Like a raindrop
I return to my source
my voice
re-collects
its memories/tells me
about the ancient ones
as I descend into the valley
of Banga-an*
verdant valley of water
and sustenance
I descend like a raindrop
into pools speckled
with rice seedlings
flat mirrors
which reflect a clearer image
and cling to your feet
in a muddy embrace

I descend like a raindrop
joining the millions
which wash over me,
increase into a deluge
as my footsteps quicken
on the turbid path
toes pressing into soft mud
leaving a trail
that soon dissolves

I descend into the village:
triangular rooftops of nipa
women crouched underneath
sifting rice
in graceful repetition
bellies of baskets
making yellow arcs
as the grains leap and fall

Roosters crow
as though it is always morning;
children
in tattered shirts,
mud-smeared faces
splash and dance
oblivious to their
strange visitor

I am invisible:
like a raindrop
I have lost my identity
melted into the
gleaming pools
of rice
and rain—
in this return

I fall into a dream
until I must leave again—

*Banga-an is a village in the area known as the Banawe Rice Terraces, Philippines

Aimee Suzara is a California-based Filipino-American who sometime last year spent a short stint in Pampanga province as a volunteer for an NGO advocating the clean-up from toxic waste of the former US bases (Clark and Subic). *Banga-an is a village in the area known as the Banawe Rice Terraces, Philippines
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