Why do I yearn to walk again your rugged slopes more than ever,
Much more than do a carefree meandering around the Tokyo Tower,
Or a leisurely stroll along some breezy lane South of the Golden Gate?
Why are your volcanic boulders and fossilized wood more marvelous of late?
Why do I opt to listen to the twitt’ring kulepatung in the early morn,
When I can savor my favorite coffee watching the sports of Tiger or old Bjorn?
Why in your secluded valley my eyes get fixated to a green narra or mahogany,
When in a cozy living room they could be glued to a Mr Bean or a Discovery?
As if the mountain flora and fauna would not be there the morning after,
As if I would miss the dewdrops and the cool pure breeze forever.
Perhaps the call of the wild is far and away stronger;
No poetic verse nor prosaic lines could be a substitute for being there.
Beyond the craggy cliffs where once with cousins and boyhood friends,
We dared to climb and stray where close by an old sturdy molave bends.
Precariously we’d clutch on some cogon leaves or lagundi stem,
Unmindful that the rock below our feet could let us down and fall with them.
Unmindful too, of danger from predatory creatures along our way —
Oft have been seen pythons and venomous cobras roaming in search of their prey
And brawny brown lizards seeking weaker kinds to snatch with their powerful clasp —
While oblivious of a multi-colored spider ensnaring some unsuspecting wasp.
Trail or no trail, up and down then further up, we’re trying to find
Shrapnel and disabled booby traps, and we wouldn’t mind,
Vintage bombs and grenades lying about this once a major battlefield,
Overlooking telltale signs of a watermellon crop’s bountiful yield.
We stopped by duhat trees to sort of quench our thirst as finding
Water to even moisten the lip was just wishful thinking!
Ah! But the thirst for adventure was far more unquenchable
Despite the churning of the inside being nearly unbearable!
Still plodding the steep climb wearily but steadily without fail,
At times startled by the sudden flight of the ubiquitous quail,
Looking forward to the mountain top for some precious rest,
Leery and wary of a precipice where hid a secretive lawin’s nest.
We found a mysterious cave where dwelt many a swallow
In guilt of eating their little eggs fresh and raw we’d fain not wallow!
Now reaching the top eagerly after a few more anxious moments,
Eyes on randomly scattered rusty munition fragments.
Collected pieces of exploded ordnance inside old beat up sacks,
Downhill we carried jocundly till we crossed the railroad tracks,
Then hilariously pocketing many a five or ten centavo bill,
Could you fathom or thwart the delight the gladness the thrill?
Was earning quarter of a peso for a few kilograms of scrap iron
Just a fringe benefit of the wonder and magic of this youthful sojourn
In transit to an ambitious but obstacle laden tortuous destination
Along the way struggling to catch up with runaway inflation?
Today I find it’s not so bad to be kind of riding the gravy train,
Better than trying to keep up with the Joneses again and again,
Here and now I’m back to the stark reality of life,
That day dreaming is as useful as challenges and strife.
Here and now I find myself trying to satisfy a deeper kind of longing
In your hills and valleys to me so challenging, so enchanting.
I may be wishing to see the splendid transformation of Bahrain,
But once there I certainly would be wishing to return to you again.
In my boyhood years I loathed the mountainside tasks my elders assigned
Tilling and planting and pasturing carabaos I really did mind.
In retrospect it was not the unruly beasts nor the tough chores I despised,
But the lack of proper protection from the elements I disliked
Now I need not fret about the rain and the sun and itches and scratches that piqued me before,
What with marked-down boots and hats and surplus clothes from some tiangge or obscure store,
Nor deal with the unsatisfied cravings that pervaded my very core,
For I’m now refusing to let these sort of things perturb me anymore.
No more will they stand in the way of this sense of wonder and awe and fascination,
With the creepers and crawlers and soarers adding unassumingly to the beauty of creation,
With a now verdant now amber home to wildlife a biologist might ask for protection,
With a serene hideaway that once eluded my fleeting, nonchalant, juvenile attention.
© 2014 Benjamin G. Sangalang