The Mermaids of Maybato

          For Jasper & John

We sit on stones,
Polishing our scales,
Fins, tails; our tales

Number as palm blades
That welcome the waves.
We believe in each other's 

Stories - not one of us
Is a fisher's wife,
We know. We agree

By the ocean
We are bound, charmed
By the pink pearl

Of the sun,
And we hear
The silence of fishboats

Breathing with the sea.
Listen, the deep 
Tolls for us.

Eva Luna

          For Isabel Allende

Come, tell me stories
That will keep even the toads
Of my restless nights tongue-tied

Whisper to me words
That will tame
My vagabond heart,

That I too may love
Until I have forgotten speech
From years of waiting.

Bring back to life
Spirits long buried
In mind's graveyard.

Don't stop,
Though I may fall asleep.
Your tales be elegies -

That when I close my eyes,
I can make out
The ripe sweetness of mangoes.


                             For Evelio B. Javier
                             and the Antiqueños

                  They talk about your murder
                  In gossips, like confessions.
                  You only snort at it, believing
                  In the yellow fight of a widow,

                  And victory at your fingertips.
                  But rumor travels fast
                  Like bullets, and the distance
                  From the capitol to a toilet

                  Is a short dash from life
                  To death. Your supporters'
                  Windows are now closed tight 
                  Like your coffin, their sorrow

                  Wreathed orchids, and their loss
                  Found in silent steps to your grave.
                  All hope now is trampled earth,
                  And your assassins at peace.



       We climb the pine trees and perch
       Like hens at dusk,
       Counting fireflies and stars.

       The churchbells ring
       Our prayers of sweets and games,
       Treasure chests of pirates or kings.

       This done, we jump down 
       And hop home like frogs
       Croaking goodnight to friends.

       At suppertime, we have mother's soup
       To heal the wounds and bruises
       From that day's hard play.

       Sleep, of course, is the best time 
       To watch out for angels 
       Trapped in our mosquito nets.
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