, June 17, 2024

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Oteyza's Cañao

  •   1 min read
Oteyza's Cañao
By Marne Kilates

In the valley hugged by mountains,
They dance! They dance to celebrate,
Propitiate Kabunyan, the highland god―
Give thanks, pray for a good harvest, health
For grain and heart, firm bone and brawn
For walking the terraces, 𝘈 𝘨𝘰𝘰𝘥 𝘺𝘦𝘢𝘳,
𝘖 𝘨𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘵 𝘴𝘱𝘪𝘳𝘪𝘵 𝘰𝘧 𝘴𝘰𝘥 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘤𝘭𝘰𝘶𝘥―And the gongs
Beat, the elders and the young lovers, their skins
Gold, sweat sparkling, loincloths waving,
Chewing their betel and spewing the red juice…
They dance in circles, tracing orbits
Among the stars and other past cañaos,
The gamy, burnt 𝘦𝘵𝘢𝘨 and 𝘥𝘪𝘯𝘦𝘯𝘨𝘥𝘦𝘯𝘨
Washed down with the sweet bite of 𝘵𝘢𝘱𝘶𝘺,
And the world is refreshed, it vibrates
From bud to twig, from root to topmost
Branch, the birds and grasshoppers chirp and
Chirr… And the air quivers in return,
Echoing the gongs!
The sky, deep blue, recedes in the distance,
Smiling at the dancers, and before long
It will resound with thunder, pregnant with rain.
Which is one wonder of Oteyza’s Cañao:
Its waves and rhythms of bodies and limbs
Remind me of the sea, the gongs ripple
Among the waves, the fish flick and flicker
As the feet stir the dust and mountain dirt,
And the world moves and turns again,
The elders smoke their pipes and cigars,
The surf licks and froths on the riprap wall,
The raised arms of the dancers, the pungent scent
Of 𝘮𝘢𝘴𝘤𝘢𝘥𝘢 and betel rise to the sky!

(18 January 2024)

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