by wooden splinters from houses crushed by Supertyphoon Yolanda.
—Philippine Daily Inquirer, Nov. 11, 2013
The world does not owe you an explanation.
Like the meekest child in the cold of night,
it shakes and shudders at the slightest tremble,
and opens its mouth to the drop of rain.
You must accept this is how the world behaves:
it rages against the living to turn people into ashes,
it breaks into quakes and destroys old churches.
Come to think of it, there is no way around it.
A girl of six must embrace the falling debris
coming for her death. A mother ties her children
around a wall post to keep them from being
swept away by the strong gust of wind.
But let me tell you, it is through small miracles
that we learn to come through the day’s horror.
Once, I saw an old man on TV, a victim of disaster,
holding a rosary in one hand, a stampita in the other.
Mother told me a stampita is one way of knowing
what to pray (and for whom). Like a didactic poem,
it tells you how many times over you must recite
the Lord’s prayer, or how many ways you could have
saved thousands of lives that perished in the storm.
There is no instruction manual better than this.
It tells you you will survive despite all these
and those who did shall live to tell a bigger story:
a rainbow is coming out any moment now,
meaning, we must learn to love each other more.
Brylle Bautista Tabora, 21, started writing in high school when he was part of the school’s campus paper. He started writing fiction in his first year in college, and a few years later, forayed into poetry. A biology graduate, he was a writing fellow for fiction to the 12th IYAS Creative Writing Workshop in Bacolod City-Philippines, and a fellow for poetry to the 52nd Silliman University National Writers Workshop. His poems have been published in the Philippines Graphic, Quarterly Literary Review Singapore, and Silliman Journal. He has been greatly influenced by confessional poets like Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton, whose passion for death and the written word has stirred up something inside him, but has since moved on to poets like Wislawa Szymborska, Philip Larkin, and Elizabeth Bishop. In his free time, he likes to browse websites like Buzzfeed or Huffington Post, or if he has the energy, goes out with friends. He has a dog named Tintin whom he loves very much, more than anyone he could think of in this world, although he oftentimes regrets forgetting to feed him, a task which his mother has taken upon herself. Right now, he could say, he enjoys writing poetry more than he does writing fiction.