Two poems from Edith and Angela

It seems like it was ages ago that I was sitting in Sir Neil's class with our textbook open on my desk--the Likhaan Philippine Literary Anthology. It was through this book and through that class that I encountered most of the Filipino poetry, fiction and essays I'm familiar with. Filipino literature in English is a wonderful thing. We're a sentimental culture, romantic, bursting at the seams with feelings and images. And it shows in our writing. Angela Manalang-Gloria was one of the first poets I was made to report on. I encountered Edith Tiempo later on, because of Bonsai--a poem that echoes some of my own thoughts about love (how it is made up of small things). Thanks goes to Read A Little Poetry, where these 2 were originally posted. 

Edith Tiempo

All that I love
I fold over once
And once again
And keep in a box
Or a slit in a hollow post
Or in my shoe.
All that I love?
Why, yes, but for the moment-
And for all time, both.
Something that folds and keeps easy,
Son’s note or Dad’s one gaudy tie,
A roto picture of a queen,
A blue Indian shawl, even
A money bill.
It’s utter sublimation,
A feat, this heart’s control
Moment to moment
To scale all love down
To a cupped hand’s size
Till seashells are broken pieces
From God’s own bright teeth,
And life and love are real
Things you can run and
Breathless hand over
To the merest child.

To the Man I Married
Angela Manalang-Gloria

You are my earth and all the earth implies:
The gravity that ballasts me in space,
The air I breathe, the land that stills my cries
For food and shelter against devouring days.
You are the earth whose orbit marks my way
And sets my north and south, my east and west,
You are the final, elemented clay
The driven heart must turn to for its rest.
If in your arms that hold me now so near
I lift my keening thoughts to Helicon
As trees long rooted to the earth uprear
Their quickening leaves and flowers to the sun,
You who are earth, O never doubt that I
Need you no less because I need the sky!
I can not love you with a love
        That outcompares the boundless sea,
For that were false, as no such love
        And no such ocean can ever be.
But I can love you with a love
        As finite as the wave that dies
And dying holds from crest to crest
        The blue of everlasting skies.

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