History Means to Spare None of Us

What did we know of the angel,
how it decided which of our houses
to mark with chalk, and which with

the blood of an animal that bleated
six times before being led to slaughter?
What did we know of angels in the first

place, when our mothers raised us to avert
our eyes as we passed beneath the trees
at dusk, when babaylan taught us to listen

for the breathing of kapres lighting
enormous cigars? If the angel marked us
safe, we knew it wasn't so much

because we were exceptionally good
or favored. Perhaps the animal bleated
three times instead of five or six.

Perhaps hot ashes from the kapre's cigar
fell into the well instead of on our
thatched roofs. And it doesn't matter

if you are the mayor's son or the black-
smith's daughter: the dark cloud gathering
at the foothills isn't a storm coming,

isn't a pestilence of locusts. It's just
ordinary smoke rumbling history's
reproach. It doesn't condone stasis

or equilibrium; it loves the sound of wind
stirred up by giant wings, the way it breaks
the cardinal points from a compass rose.


In response to Via Negativa: Improvisational.

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