Friday, April 15, 2022

Day 15 ... NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day 2022


Robert Lee Brewer’s Poem-a-Day prompt: “[W]rite a patience poem. Your poem could be about someone or something with great patience, or it could come from the other direction (ie, impatience).”

Maureen Thorson’s NaPoWriMo prompt: “I’d like to challenge you to write a poem about something you have absolutely no interest in. This isn’t quite the same, I think, as something you’re indifferent to. . . . This is honestly kind of funny, and I think this prompt has value precisely because it invites you to investigate some of the 'why' behind resolutely not giving two hoots about something.”

Today, I offer two poems destined for my novel-in-poems on the mythical Philippine monster, the aswang. These may be the last poems I'm writing for the novel — at least, I've filled in the denouement of the story. Now I move to revision of the novel, though I am always open to more poems if they want to show up. The speaker of these two poems is Clara, a "reformed" aswang who is working in a Philippine rural area as a healer, in atonement for her monsterly life, and in search of some kind of salvation.

Regarding the two prompts, the first of the poems mentions patience and the need for patience, in response to Brewer's prompt. Both poems are about folk healing, because my character Clara has become a folk healer, in fact, a shaman or babaylan, who serve the community as mediums to the spirit world. This is connected to Thorson's prompt because folk healing and faith healing practices are something I'm not a believer in, but which is of interest for the purpose of the novel. Both poems are curtal sonnets.

Healer

We finally settled in the small town
of Bagumbahay — “new house” — in Capiz.
Word spread that a new herbalist was here,
and every day, for years, people would line
up outside in our street, seeking release
from illness beyond their doctors’ power.

Hour upon hour: massage, poultice
with herbs and oils, advice on how to ease
their pain. Crushing work . . . times I would despair,
then ask the sky spirits for calm, patience.
                                                    Send me a healer!

—Draft by Vince Gotera    [Do not copy or quote . . . thanks.]

This second poem is a response to Clara's prayerful plea in the first poem. The word hilot refers to Philippine traditional healing and a manghihilot is a healer trained in those techniques; a barangay is a Philippine village or district, formerly called a barrio.

Teacher

After years of backbreaking work, I found
Josefa, a manghihilot nearby,
two barangays away, a miracle
worker, people said. So I sent word, and
Josefa agreed to meet with me. I
learned I needed not just medicinal

health but also supernatural help.
She taught me to treat ailments simply by
touch, to use new plants with rare medical
effects, and how to heal my broken self
                                        through the spirit world.

—Draft by Vince Gotera    [Do not copy or quote . . . thanks.]


            Illustration from HFI.

Friends, won’t you comment, please? Love to know what you’re thinking. Thanks!

Ingat, everyone.   


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7 comments:

Billie Julianna said...

Beautiful work, Vince -- I love how you incorporate the two prompts into sonnets that come from the same work, the same scene (practically), and the same voice.

Bruce Niedt said...

You rule the curtal sonnet these days, Vince. I can see this as a satisfying resolution to your novel. Keep me on the radar as to when the book will be published!

Unknown said...

I love the two poems and how they provide a peek at the Philippine culture, even through a poem that is about something you don't have much interest in. I'll piggy back on Bruce's request to keep us in the loop about your book!

Unknown said...

Vince, the above comment is from Suzanne H.

Vince Gotera said...

Billie, thanks so much. Yesterday, when I wrote this, I thought I had all the narrative elements in the novel, but today, another poem showed up!

Vince Gotera said...

Bruce, thanks ... very nice of you to say. Well, these poems were it for the novel. I had written the actual ending a while ago and had been backfilling the falling action of the story, but then another aswang poem came up today!

Vince Gotera said...

Suzanne, many thanks. I will certainly let you know when the book gets published. It'll be a while yet.




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