It is time to come home

(for Leoncio Evasco, Jr. and Procopio Resabal)

 

 

He has just paddled the banca out of Postan Gamay,

where the branches of the mangrove arch above the water

a temple of dark green silence.

 

                                   In his heart he keeps the oars quiet.

 

Delivered back to the light and sound of the world, he sees,

hears, wild emerald doves and orioles stir the river,

dipping their wings for a bath and sunning on a wire

strung across the breadth of Abatan.

                                         

                                                          It will soon be sunset.

 

He catches his breath at the shimmer of wings when the birds

shake droplets loose from their feathers. A light breeze passes
through the nipa fronds on the riverbank; fetches faint sounds

of a church bell calling the faithful to prayer.

 

                                                        It is time to come home.

 

As the sun slips behind Maribojoc mountains, he comes

to Bitoon, the deeper part of the river; stops for a chance

to hear the bell thrown long ago by the people of Malabago

to defy anger of shamans, priests, and greed of marauders.

 

                                         No one owns the bell but the river.

 

His friend, the wise healer of Toril, tells him the story

one starless night when he heard Lingganay Ugis

ringing. The young men in the river towns also heard it.

Many dived in to see for themselves the marvel.

                                       

                              The temple bell lies still on the riverbed.

 

At the mouth of Abatan children are hook-and-line fishing.

He calls to ask them if they were trying to catch Cogtong,

giant fish guarding the bell. They laugh and tell him: No, but  

we’ve seen him flash huge red eyes, whip his very strong tail.

 

                                      The old bell-keeper is alive and well.

 

 

 

 

Marjorie Evasco

 

Maribojoc Mayor Leoncio Evasco, Jr. with Procopio Resabal and Vietnamese poet Nguyen Bao Chan
Maribojoc Mayor Leoncio Evasco, Jr. with Procopio Resabal and Vietnamese poet Nguyen Bao Chan