All those touched and killed by the night end up floating on sea. Strewn across some other beaches are the stranded bodies of dead kings. The deluge wants to say that it does not speak the language of destruction but of music. Exiting a classroom, your body finds itself walking towards a place, where traps bloom and mutiny waits, and then stops there. Give me a hundred reasons to look for you again.
Nakalutang sa dagat ang lahat ng hinaplos at pinatay ng gabi. Nasa iba pang baybayin ang mga bangkay ng mga hari. Gustong sabihin ng unos na hindi panganib ang kanyang sinasabi kundi isang awit. Mula sa silid-aralan, naglakad ang iyong katawan papunta sa namulaklak na patibong at doon na natigil. Bigyan mo ako ng isang daang dahilan upang muli kitang hagilapin.
Empty. I pulled something out and was not scorched
Since there was no flame. No glass marble. No world
Or a universe expanding, unfurling its immensity.
I replaced the lid and peeked inside
But no star was in sight.
My finger explored every corner,
As if scraping clean an entire jar of honey,
But there was no dust to be found.
I knocked, and no one answered.
Yelled but no
Echo was forthcoming.
No sound or guitar string.
I set ants free inside the box
And proved the absence of sugar.
Or salt. Or sea. There could be wind
But there was no kite. Or thread.
Or a shirt with a hole. Can “bare” describe
The box? Where is the body? I put
My lips next to the opening but received no kiss.
Or even a caress. I let out a string of profanities
But came out unscathed.
There was no absolution after I had confessed my sins.
Nobody called me
When I slipped a telephone inside the box.
I dropped a piece of paper and did not get a letter.
I made a paper boat, tossed it inside the box,
But the boat remained still. There was no river.
I turned the boat into a bird, grabbed a slingshot,
But I could not find a stone inside the box.
I stared at the box for a long time
But nothing came out.
Talked to it but no plant grew.
I went to sleep. Woke up. Had breakfast.
Took another peep at the inside of the box. Nothing.
No mercy. Nothingness had eyes
That specifically meant nothing.
Inside the box, there was nothing.
Walang laman. Dumukot ako at hindi napaso
Dahil walang apoy. Walang holen. Walang daigdig
O unibersong lumalawak, lumalaki.
Inilagay ko ang takip at sinilip ang loob
Ngunit wala ni isang bituin.
Ginalugad ng daliri ko ang bawat sulok,
Animo'y inuubos ang isang garapon ng pulót,
Ngunit walang alikabok.
Kumatok ako at walang sumagot.
Sumigaw at walang bumalik
Walang tunog o kuwerdas ng gitara.
Naglagay ako ng mga langgam
At nakumpirma kong walang asukal.
O asin. O dagat. Siguro may hangin
Ngunit walang saranggola. O sinulid.
O butás na kamiseta. Masasabi bang hubad
Ang kahon? Nasaan ang katawan? Ipinasok ko
Aking mga labi ngunit walang nagbalik ng halik.
O kahit haplos. Nagmura ako sa loob
Pero wala akong natamong sugat o galos.
Walang nagpatawad noong bumulong ako ng mga sala.
Noong inilagay ko ang telepono.
Naglaglag ako ng papel at walang sumulat.
Ginawa kong bangka ang papel, inilagay sa kahon,
At hindi gumalaw ang bangka. Walang ilog.
Ginawa kong ibon ang bangka, kumuha ng tirador,
Ngunit wala akong natagpuang bato sa kahon.
Matagal kong tinitigan ang kahon
Ngunit walang lumabas.
Kinausap ngunit walang tumubong halaman.
Natulog ako. Nagising. Nag-almusal.
Sumilip ulit sa kahon. Wala.
Walang puso. May mga mata
Ng kawalan na ang ibig sabihin ay wala.
Ang laman ng kahon ay wala.
In spite of everything, we sobbed upon reaching the summit. I spat on the flowers. Except for the color of their clothes, there was nothing else we could remember about the bodies strewn across the fields. We cast off our auspicious fortune and cut down our labor whenever there was a drop in the arrival of envelopes, whenever there was a decaying body. We had already lost our minds. When temperatures dropped, we were like horses ditched in the plain where all the grass had dried up and died from drought. In summer, we were like a new bride. In sleep, we dreamed of a deep sea, deep passion, deep flood of money from the plaza to the municipal artesian well. Using our mouth, we mimicked the sound of a surging wave. One day, some of us sang the psalms, while some hummed the yoweng. We disbanded like scraps of cloth flung into a river in San Rafael. Now, I am just me and they, in turn, are just them.
Sa kabilang banda, humagulgol kami noong naabot namin ang tuktok. Dumura ako ng mga bulaklak. Maliban sa kulay ng damit, wala na kaming ibang matandaan tungkol sa katawang nadaanan namin sa kapatagan. Nalagas ang maganda naming kapalaran at nagtitiklop kami ng mga bisig kapag matumal ang dating ng mga sobre, kapag may nabubulok na katawan. Maluluwag na ang aming mga turnilyo. Pagdating ng taglamig, para kaming mga kabayong pinabayaan sa isang tuyong damuhan. Sa tag-araw, para kaming isang babaeng bagong kasal. Sa aming higaan, nanaginip kami ng malalim na dagat, malalim na pag-irog, malalim na baha ng pera mula plasa hanggang igiban ng tubig. Gamit ang aming bibig, ginaya namin ang tunog ng daluyong. Isang araw, ang ilan sa amin ay umawit ng salmo, ang ilan ay umawit ng yoweng. Nagkawatak-watak kaming parang mga retasong itinapon sa ilog ng San Rafael. Ngayon, ako ay ako na lamang at sila ay sila na lamang rin.
Marlon Hacla is a programmer, writer, and photographer. His first book, May Mga Dumadaang Anghel sa Parang (Manila: National Commission for Culture and the Arts), was published as part of UBOD New Authors Series II. His second book, Glossolalia, was published by High Chair. He also released two chapbooks, Labing-anim na Liham ng Kataksilan and Melismas. In 2017, he created the first robot poet in Filipino, Estela Vadal, as a Twitter bot with the handle @estelavadal. He lives in Quezon City, Philippines.
Kristine Ong Muslim is the author of nine books, including the fiction collections Age of Blight (Unnamed Press), Butterfly Dream (Snuggly Books), and The Drone Outside (Eibonvale Press), as well as the poetry collections Lifeboat (University of Santo Tomas Publishing House), Meditations of a Beast (Cornerstone Press), and Black Arcadia (University of the Philippines Press). She is co-editor of two anthologies—the British Fantasy Award-winning People of Colo(u)r Destroy Science Fiction and Sigwa: Climate Fiction Anthology from the Philippines, an illustrated volume forthcoming from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines Press. She grew up and continues to live in a rural town in southern Philippines.