History and story

Translation of Kerima Lorena Tariman’s “Salaysay at Kasaysayan”


The calluses on his feet have grown the size of garlic:
a bulb for each heel. His skin is thick
under the layers of thinning tatters:
of various fading colors, worn-out labels of clothes
and pesticide bottles that buried him in debt
when the lean season came.

The shadow of his nose, the dark in his sun-browned face
creases as he narrates his story. A flame dances
between us as his wife tells of how
her hands were viciously lashed
when she tried to save their crops from being inundated:
livelihoods eventually needed washing off by the stream.

Even without the onset of drought, even without the coming of storms
calluses grow enourmous,
hands get bloodied and torn.
What do we know about exploitation?
Who planted the greedy plunderers in our land?
Where are its roots, when do we pull out abuse by its foundations?
What kind of calamity is this semi-feudalism?

The streams are being muddied
by footsteps
rushing towards each front,
to the fields where a new government
is a seedling born.
What law of the land,
law of the heavens,
raging miracle
or pains of hunger
brought us over
to the side of the people?
There is none that was written
or told,
none that was carved
or sculpted.
No book, no legend.
We are here
What law?
We who are mere drops
in an unstoppable surge
that comes.

Dedicated with love to Kerima Lorena Tariman
People’s poet and warrior

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