~ after “When Remains Speak, Do You Listen?” by Ulysses Duterte; acrylic on canvas, 2016
The temple’s artificial ribs
look so much like beautiful
ivory— their glow in moonlight
stuns even the soldiers that prowl
the periphery. This is possibly
one of the last outposts—
You can hang your coat on a rack
poised like a scorpion’s sting,
then wash in a pool resembling
an endangered sea turtle’s shadow.
Let me tell you its name
before my own memory is erased:
Pawikan. Like us, it must regularly
surface to breathe. The sky’s dome gleams,
helmet worn by the empty capitol.
Come now, before the portal closes.
Make one explosive exhalation then
take your deepest breath. Know
that you might have to hold it
for a very long time.