Obituary (A Poem, Revised)

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She was but one
of your number, one
out of the
one thousand,
two hundred and
sixty-eight;
and I knew how her name
ought to have been spelled;
I knew her face well,
knew the table where she sat
every night for dinner,
knew the name of the person
she left behind —
But I recognize every single one of you,
too.

Years ago
Your coins mixed with my fare;
We grumbled together in long lines
at Ororama;
You took my spot in the motorela
after I disembarked;
Your tables were bussed
so I could take your place
after you had eaten your dinner.

Once
We met on the spit-stained sidewalk;
I ignored you.
I get out of it by saying
You ignored me, too.

We did not
drown in the same
streetlights at night
Nor drown in the same
darkness that night
When the blackouts came
I was safe from its reach
While I inhaled
the wintry December air
you breathed in
something far colder

There will be
nights of wondering
where your souls have gone.
I only know one name
out of the
hundreds
and hundreds
now etched
in stone and
it is not yours.
We were never kindred,
not by gold
nor by water nor by blood.
You will be missing from me
nonetheless.

No one I know reads obituaries
in the newspaper
but forgetting is not an option now.
Requiescat in pace.


This poem was published in “Antukin”: Veritas Literary and Arts Folio 2018 by Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan.

 

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