Landscape of Always Burning

War is old, we're told; it's the oldest 
thing in the books. In that case the animals

have always fled deeper into the forest;
just when they cross someone lights a torch

and tosses it into the grove. In that case,
the lumad have always been on the run, wrapping

their betel nut boxes in cloth, tucking
their brass amulets under their waistbands,

in the folds of their hair. It's medicine we need
and can't squander, because who knows how long

this one will last. Ask the water to bless you.
Keep a pellet of earth under your tongue.

Who do you love? Whose hand do you take
as the sun goes dark? I count the heads

of my children as I push them out of the door.
We will be together until we can't anymore.

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