INSTINCTS #21: ‘Mebu’yan Writes a Letter to an Old Friend’ by Alton Melvar M Dapanas

A new poem today, by Filipino poet Alton Melvar M. Dapanas. Enjoy!

Mebu’yan Writes a Letter to an Old Friend

You are here with me
as a daydream in a language
long gone, like poetry, a birdsong,

or a ritual to appease. Mapping you out

in inconstant terrains—
a looming mountain range,
the still mangroves from a distance,
the ninth river, even the eye
of a thunderstorm—you
are a refuge of calm, or a resemblance
to it. You see,

dear old friend, this tasteless seeking
for those who left, primal as bone,

as birthright.

From where I lived,
in the country of the dead,

all of life are in harmony, unnoticed.
But it has not rained here for a year.
Yesterday, as I was picking Spanish plums
from my backyard, delighted
in their shades of sangria and pine,
I thought of you in your city of ports,
realm of bleak gray. You, eluded and rankled
by the banal ways of the mortals,
their countless facade. And yet,
that is what you return to: a plague

of apathy.

I veil in this unnaming

a catalogue of your residues:
an old letter, your bare hands
etched on my hips, a shadow,
what used to be your favorite garment.
This ruin we have known too well
like some terrible thought. And no,

none in this half-life was called living,

it was only the surviving,
the pretending. Silent
as a sacrilege, I revolt
against the skies, crossing
rivers, yearning for rain.

Alton Melvar M Dapanas (them/they) is assistant creative nonfiction editor of London-based Panorama: The Journal of Intelligent Travel and Iowa-based Atlas and Alice Literary Magazineas well as an editorial reader for Creative Nonfiction magazine. Their recent works, delineating poetry and the essay, have appeared in Elsewhere: A Journal of Place (Germany) and forthcoming from Voice & Verse Poetry (Hong Kong), among others. They identify as pansexual, nonbinary, and polyamorous. A native of Metro Cagayan de Oro in the southern Philippines, they are currently based in Siargao Island, living off-the-grid in between the Pacific Ocean and a mountain range.

Read more INSTINCTS poetry here.

Featured Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

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