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from the November 2019 issue


An unwelcome visitor becomes a coveted houseguest in this poem by Voltaire Oyzon.

Voltaire Oyzon reads "Water."

Rain, this most ungracious guest,
enters your house
without bothering to knock

very rude
he’s all over the place
messes up the house
soaks the foot rags wets chairs winnowing basket grater firewood sleeping mat
the covers even the pillows
the wedding picture, my wife’s and mine . . .

Three or four days
he hangs out in our house.

I tell myself, don’t begrudge your welcome,
but how irksome his presence—
the baby’s clothes
never dry always
dripping with his tears.

Well, so now I say, I’m mad at you,
Please leave, will you?

But once you’re gone, things
go bad for us, everything that’s yours you take with you
all our wells dry up,
our faucets stop flowing,
the plants go thirsty

we have to cajole you to return
with what charms we know, prayers
offerings, begging you please come back.
But please, please, if you do
don’t bring everyone with you—

the rice we have,
the viand,
the room to keep you in
are all just enough for today.

“Lambunaw” © Voltaire Oyzon. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2019 by Merlie M. Alunan. All rights reserved.

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