Bodies of Gold

Marjorie Evasco (IWP, fall 2002) directs the Creative Writing program at the La Salle University in Manila in the Philippines, and has two National Book Awards and three collections of poetry to her name. In her writing English finds itself increasingly shadowed by Cebuano, the language of her native island of Bohol.

(After C.W. Kent’s Woodland Path in Iowa City)

Turns copper-gold the araguaney now.
My brother painted its shimmer
The year he lost himself in Venezuela.

It was this burning tree of memory
Led him back to that first theft
When human eye beheld god’s fire,

Singeing the imagination to waking.
He found his way out of the forest when
Seed, flower and trunk were forged in flame.

Such is our morning hike this sunlit day—
A quest of waking the body up to the trees
Standing red, bronze and ochre in Iowa.

We live to forge our way with words,
Bring out the colors of an entire year’s sunsets
Kept warm in the running sap, each fingertip-leaf

Burning back always into inevitable night.
We foresee the time earth will fold unto itself,
Yet now in Squire Point Park, we suddenly step

Into a woodland trail ablaze, the sugar maples
Simmering: this yellow umbrella of air engulfs us,
Foundlings of the god who breathes fire.

* for Hansel Mapayo
and Katie Ives

Marjorie Evasco
Iowa City, Oct. 13, 2002