Photographs of a flood (Canzone)By Simeon Dumdum Jr.
Cebu Daily News
The photographs transport us to the flood
Such that it is as if we’re really there,
Holding on to what has been loosed by the flood,
Boards, beds, or animals drowned by the flood,
But still usable to prop up life,
Whatever of it is left by the flood
To sprout and blossom—until the next flood
Which could arrive without notice of rain,
Even as we ask, wondering if it will rain
Because we face a long day with a flood
Of burdens, and hope, checking the time,
That rescue will finally come this time.
The photographs make do with freezing time,
But how can anything transfix the flood
And evermore keep it outside of time
Unless as a reminder to gain time?
Still memory is dismissed as just there,
Somewhere, a lost item, misplaced by time,
Which has empty excuses every time
The mind beards the fragility of life.
Yet love stands before all as big as life
And in all patience waits for curtain time
As we hush up at the first drop of rain,
And see the dog shake off the drops of rain.
The photographs are hazy like the rain,
As photographs become when aged by time,
Whose work amounts to leaving in the rain
Whatever is saved and forgotten–rain
Is light without memory of the flood,
A term for the oblivion of rain,
The measure of the cruelty of rain,
Which sweeps away all that is there
And those who cry for what was there.
But did it not begin with us, the rain?
Did we not forget to pause, and give life
A thought, wanting to get on with our life?
The photographs show a kind of still life
In which the jars are toppled by the rain
And their contents are emptied of life,
But not the indestructible, the life
That moves the artist’s hand, that defies time
And puts the fragments back and gives them life,
Light-filled, laugh-fed, love-freed, lasting life,
A more delightful, joyful kind of flood,
That goes against the other kinds of flood,
Meets their type of death with its type of life,
Which happens to be both there and not there,
Because we see only that which is there.
The photographs stare at us even if there
Is no one, which often happens in life.
They follow us even if we’re not there,
As though implanted in the brain, and there
Can be for us no refuge from the rain,
Which seems to fall even if it’s not there,
And if it falls and we’re not there,
Does it make a difference with time?
Because the weather has its way in time
And moves its nimbus clouds from here to there,
Not in eternity, no, where the flood
Comes from rain that light has saved from the flood.
And then there will be no photographs of a flood
Because of love’s infinite summer, there
Will be no boundaries to life
Because on it falls gentle, greening rain,
Rhythmic as the seasons, constant as time.
More from this Column:
- The persistence of memory
- Round as tomatoes
- The name of the rose
- The Third man
- How to live a long life