DOWN THE SLOPE
(For Francisco F. Casuga+)
Yet all the precedent is on my side:/I know that winter death has never tried/The earth but it has failed;.../It cannot check the peeper’s silver croak. --- Robert Frost, The Onset
I would run down the slope and catch myself
a rolling ball of snow before it falls into the ravine,
but walking through the silently falling snow
at the trail is a choice for these creaking knees---
no more gossoon games defying gravity for me
or flying off the hillside edge into fluff below
among the stiffened bramble and wild apple tree.
There’s warmth in the silence of falling snow:
I feel his gentle hands on my nape, I hear him,
I ask him if he would drink a pint with me
if I had reached beer-guzzling age before
he’d make his final trek, before he’d leave,
but I hear his whistling for the wind instead
and tug at his wayward kite now puncturing
some sombre summer sky in San Fernando.
O, how I’d run down the barren slopes to catch
his fallen kite among the burnt logs of the kaingin*
but these are flakes I find myself catching
and whipped out twigs that break the silence
of falling snow. O my father.
*Clearings made by burning forests
--- ALBERT B. CASUGA
The Given Line triggering the poem (ligne donne)
Francisco Flores Casuga+ would have been
90 last January 9, 2011.