… mourn a woman’s
bitter lot: to give birth to men
who kill and are killed.
Grace Monte de Ramos
That morning alone
he had sunk ten warships, downed four planes,
marched countless armies across unseen
territories, borders mapped only in his mind.
Gunpowder and ash stained his arms and shirt,
across one chubby cheek, a brave streak of red.
He had no thought to spare, the breakfast loot
done with, for whom he had left that day
to pursue his valorous adventures.
Would it occur to him to ask, she ponders,
who or what or why for valor must be won
always by deeds of violence, cities plundered,
the enemy brought to heel who might well be
a lover or a friend, the victors, spoil-rich,
drunk with their power, mindless of whom
conquest had bereft of home,
the human birthright — peace, honor and love–
as any woman time and time before
had ever done, if children understand — death sailed
the elegant warships, flew the ardent planes,
rode the bombs bursting gold in a green glade
or the cerulean skies their hands so young,
so blameless, paint in color with such
masterful glibness — thinking
with the sentiency
of her long watch: after playtime,
would he return, though torpedoes rip, ferocious
the dreaming ears of his sleep,
come back to her unwounded, guiltless as now,
fighting his wars only with pen and color,
quite safe, sprawled there on her kitchen floor,
and only blood of makebelieve to gore his innocence–
stung with sudden rage,
asking when it was or how
a mother who had everything to do with birth
is stricken helpless by certain imperatives
and lost her say among men and nations
on matters of war and death–
Merlie M. Alunan. “His Wars.” 1993.
Images from Anton del Castillo’s “Conquistador.” 2009.
*Because especially this year, Women’s Month should have meant more, weighed heavier on all of us, because of the women left behind by the SAF44.