WHAT THE WAVES SAID
(Bataan Day, April 9. For the heroes of Bataan and Corregidor and their widows)
...What did/ the jeans say to the woman’s calf when/ she stood near the ocean./ What did the wave say to the woman/ when it drenched her.--- Hannah Stephenson, “That’s How I Roll”, The Storialist
She must go back there, one way or the other,
it is a dive into her origin. Why not a caress?
She will need one to get to the other. Knowing
them all, the smell of the brine, of pungent
sweat on the backs of the lads who carried
her into the church then floating with mud:
They held her gingerly by her thighs, ruffles
wafting in the unseasonal wind, her panuelo
lashing their faces then glistening lustfully
as they stole forbidden glances at her clean
legs dangling, kicking furtively at their sides.
Drenching her, breaking waves urge her return.
She could still taste the rice coffee on his lips
when he kissed her mouth and vowed his troth.
He left for a war, and could not come home,
cut down at some shore wading toward a hail
of sand and pebble, dying for God and country,
yet could not crawl back to live by his promise.
She must go back there, to lie on that shore
at sundown, drench herself with his tardy touch,
as waves break frenziedly on her breasts and
caress her gently with the ebbing tide, when
she goes home. Laughing, the waves said so,
as she felt them turn warm around her bare calf.
---Albert B. Casuga