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‘The Haiyan Dead’ — A poem


do not sleep. 
They walk our streets
climb stairs of roofless houses
latchless windows blown-off doors
they are looking for the bed by the window
cocks crowing at dawn lizards in the eaves 
they are looking for the men
who loved them at night the women
who made them crawl like puppies
to their breasts babes they held in arms
the boy who climbed trees the Haiyan dead
are looking in the rubble for the child 
they once were the youth they once were
the bride with flowers in her hair 
red-lipped perfumed women
white-haired father gap-toothed crone 
selling peanuts by the church door
the drunk by a street lamp waiting 
for his house to come by the girl dreaming 
under the moon the Haiyan dead are 
looking for the moon washed out 
in a tumult of water that melted their bodies 
they are looking for their bodies that once 
moved to the dance to play 
to the rhythms of love moved 
in the simple ways--before wind 
lifted sea and smashed it on the land-- 
of breath talk words shaping
in their throats lips tongues
the Haiyan dead are looking 
for a song they used to love a poem 
a prayer they had raised that sea had
swallowed before it could be said 
the Haiyan dead are looking for
the eyes of God suddenly blinded
in the sudden murk white wind seething
water salt sand black silt--and that is why 
the Haiyan dead will walk among us
endlessly sleepless--
 
January 4, 2014, Batinguel, Dumaguete City — KDM, GMA News


Merlie Alunan is Professor Emeritus at the University of the Philippines, Tacloban and the author of the poetry collection "Amina Among the Angels." This poem originally appeared on her Facebook page on January 4 and we are reposting it here with her permission.  


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