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To a Water Hyacinth

I saw the first light of day in the island province of Catanduanes. It is a lovely place facing the Pacific Ocean. Toward the end of the 1950s, my family decided to move to Manila where I completed my undergraduate studies at Far Eastern University.

What reminds me most in these two places [Catanduanes and Manila] is the unbelievable abundance of water especially during those times when Mother Nature unleashes her fury during those stormy months. I have come to believe that she punishes us for our indiscretions as human beings; it does not sit quite well with her when farmers denude the forest lands, indulge in slash-and-burn farming, destroy watersheds, and allow foreign interests to pillage the national patrimony; nor she finds any comfort when people pollute estuaries, dump toxic waste, and use the rivers as graves for dead people and animals.

The water hyacinth [water lily as fondly known] bears witness to all these indiscretions. Allow me to dedicate this poem to her who suffers not from humanity's inhumanity but flourishes in triumph because of the abundance of water where she depends on to survive.

To a Water Hyacinth

She floats and flows with the current.
With grace, she moves further on,
Unaware of the lurking tempest,
A maelstrom bent to destroy.

Underneath her green leafy stems,
The minnows seek refuge.
Small creatures gently tucked away
From a day's labor now seems at end.

Atop the hyacinth's stem, sprouts a bud.
She heralds her fragrance and hopes,
That those who seek her earthly presence
Need not stray elsewhere, not stay behind.

She envies not the roses of the balmy desert;
Nor desires the oasis' vernal blossoms;
Of beckoning marigolds and magnolias; or
Lilies neatly arranged by the beaten road.

A bit of Eden soothes the weary mortal;
Amidst a host of angels and their lyres,
They herald the pain all lull the soul.
For a restful night that beckons home.

This Side of the Hemisphere
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