Lyric by lyric/ the mouth learns the intricate passages:/where the rests are, and the furrows.


When the gleaners stretch their backs at sundown
among the terraces, they troll their ditties of work,
and throw their jute sacks on their sunburnt backs:

“Where the heavens meet the sea, O Kannoyan,
Where the pinetrees sway with the wind dance,
We will be there, we shall gather the roots, gather

the banana leaves to wrap the broiled mudfish,
and bring them home, bring them home, to hold
the feast at eventide, to burn venison in campfire.

O, Old Kannoyan, we praise you with our songs,
we pray with our flaccid hands that in the morrow
will be strong, we bless you with our gleaner’ song.”

At sunrise, they will be there again to trace roots
that lace the furrows of ancient soil, where fathers
have found their forebears’ lair laden with lore

about the worksongs of the native braves, tillers
of the softened clay, hunters of the ripened hills
where wild boars roamed with the dappled deer.

I will learn these songs, sing these songs, until
every passage, every word, shall have become
my martial beat and the quiet lullaby of my soul.

—Albert B. Casuga