, April 24, 2024

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Sampaloc Lake Abstract, in Black & White

  •   1 min read
Sampaloc Lake Abstract, in Black & White
Bernard Testa
by Marne Kilates

It’s a coming together, this piece
Of visual real estate, the abstract
Of the camera frame claiming
A square of reality, a strip of skin
Peeled off the stretch of vision:
The lake has sucked up all color,
The bare-backed fishers are about
To retrieve their nets from the corals,
Skimming in their blackened dugouts
And bamboo rafts, the lake gleaming
Under the gray sky. The town has
Nothing to say to them, neither
Memory nor legend of cruel Doña
Shooing off mendicant who needs
A measly fruit of sampaloc for his
Ailing grandson. The old man
Turns out to be the mountain nymph,
And causes the earth to swallow
The Doña’s mansion, leaving
A roundish pond in the wake
Of the cataclysm, and the name
Sampaloc for the lake, the native term
For tamarind. In the picture the town
Turns its back on the lake’s menials,
As ripples vanish in the dark horizon
Of low gray clouds shrouding
The mountain. And everyone―in shack
Or mansion, street-bound or ankle-deep
In water―is completely consumed
By the daily business of the commonplace.

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