Poetry Monday: Jose Wendell Capili

Ohtaue

(Prelude to a rice festival)

from the collection A Madness of Birds (University of the Philippines Press, 1998)

Call it staple.
Marsh grass with stems
veiled in leaf sheaths.
From a farmer’s thatched
cottage, it is the speech
of earth nourishing
a roothold, green and firm
like frogs torching on a path.
A cool breeze of fall
spells harvest.
Rice grains are hard,
mellowing when cooked,
a passion flickered
when ascetics donning
orange robes reflect
the shape of parasol pots
containing each grain.
A luminous space
of children strumming
arpeggiolike strings
invite settlers to wear
pearls and summer kimonos
dyed from playful
shades of light.
Bamboo flutes hum
while people eat rice.


Jose Wendell P. Capili graduated from the University of Santo Tomas and holds a Masters in Philosophy degree in Social Anthropology from Cambridge University (England). He is the recipient of numerous awards and grants, including the Korea Foundation, The Carlos Palanca Foundation, The Cultural Center of the Philippines and Silliman University. He teaches at the University of the Philippines in Diliman.

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