Mercy for our gasping gills-
We’re disowned by the rain, In vain
Sprinkle some love into our mucked fins
Just a little lick of liquid life
Our younglings dried for the flies
And our scales turn opaque –
As we are baked in mud we commune in death
Mercy for our gasping gills
Strike the broken ground for spring to flow,
In puddles of death, free us.
The sky has cursed our ponds to dry
Please don’t curse us too
If you will take our forms for food
We’re glad to offer you
Just let us breathe
In water clean
For an hour or two,
Meshed in blackening pond weeds,
I cannot take you as my food,
Your septic flesh is searing now
I’ll be dead before I chew
Your sick fins chucked some stinky muck onto my lips
Your brood lay drying closing to dying
As I held you in the under the sun.
Your jady color disappears
I tell you this –
More cursed than you know.
This heaping fat is sucking dry my heart and inner core
I’ve not shown love,
Not even to my own,
I’ve been to hopeless wars
And did my time
Burying bodies during storms.
You were never demolished-
Your posts are planted deep into this heart-
Foundation as thick as Puma Punku blocks.
I bring you with me like a burning birthmark persistent
In solitude and desolations-
I seek for your strong doors.
Your smell of dark fragrant moss and earth alive-
Like flowers of your grounds of rest and frolic and peace
Twisting on your iron gates.
Your trees I took them they stand like royal guards
Listening to countless pastor screams and prayer.
Humming melodies of John and Charles up until dark.
We were your little children always singing in the middle of services, saying bible verses like
Matthew 5 verse 5 “blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth”.
We ate your hosts and drank your juice behind your lighted cruciform.
As I take my verses in other churches
Your bells still toll
Even when I pass by your new face I still feel your ghost-
Your hallowed hall where the bats sleep,
The nests of birds you keep,
All are holy on your ceiling,
Holy on the wood wormed pews
And elders, they’re like embers burning,
I kept them in.
Their shadowy smiles linger on –
I seek for you in the darkest night falls –
I longed for you in my rest
Let me rest in the afternoons where the light enfolds you
Gerald Castillo Galindez is the winner of the 2017 Cotabato Province Poetry Contest. A graduate from the University of Southern Mindanao in Kabacan, North Cotabato, and currently teaches at the Senior High School Department of Notre Dame of Tacurong College, Sultan Kudarat. He is a fellow for Poetry in the 2018 Davao Writers Workshop.