(translation from Filipino of Rebecca Añonuevo's "Sulok;" from Pananahan:
Mga Tula,
Talingdao Publishing House, 1999)

One morning, I woke myself with a question:
for whom and what for am I living?
and at once it seemed the loneliest
question for which I had no immediate answer.
The clock above my head pulses
to mete out the hours,
to wake
those like me from sleep
or those pretending to be asleep.
The spoon and fork
lie on the table within reach
of anyone who wants to eat,
to help them eat
(unless the table gapes from hunger
and from being lashed by sunlight).
The fan, the lights, the earthenware stove,
the flourishing orchids
outside the house,
our house,
the store at the end of the street,
my mother who wakes
and sleeps in order to cook and do laundry,
my father who likes listening
and butting into the stories
my sisters and I share,
the barangay captain,
the newly constructed waiting shed,
the new day after a hurricane
which once again sank a large boat,
the cheerfulness of Sinatra songs
I played over and over
last night in the hope I could keep
hope alive,
the church and market and plaza,
the man on the cross,
the beggar sprawled face down
on the cold and hot cement,
the farmers and widows,
my countrymen who work
in other lands,
the children singing and dancing
and going to school,
the soldier, the revolutionary,
the priest, the teacher, the poet,
the lovers—
all of them who know
what their living is for.
I wish I could pretend,
stroke my breast
and with a confident voice
offer a profound answer
to elicit a public ovation.
I don't envy everyone
for what they know
and the wisdom they have.
Why do moments like these arrive
unasked for, and yet you wade in solitude,
dark and gloomy desolation,
the kind you hide from the world
so no one suspects,
its cry
that of a child you'll muzzle
and press to your breast
until it stops breathing.

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