THE NIGHTS CANNOT KEEP STILL
Translated from Ilokano
The nights cannot keep still
from the oddly sweltering feeling
bursting from within.
Fright? Hesitation? Anger?
The throbbing can’t be explained.
It wouldn’t leave, trailing like a shadow.
There is an anxiety in the chest that cannot be cast off,
like a cutting sharpness,
a specter that cannot be warded off.
The stubborn question persists
picking the wounded mind,
even if one closes one’s eyes to the excruciating pain.
There is a nightmare that will not allow respite,
like rust that spreads entirely
gnawing the flesh.
You know very well:
The sky may be colorful,
yet looking up to the moon
is not the cure to a tarnished trust.
Playing amusement with the stars
or sailing with closed eyes
is not the answer that you are searching for.
LOVE ALSO WANES
Translated from Ilokano
The cord is cut
The ring is broken
The candle died out
The contract that was supposedly unbreakable
Time seemed to drift away
The smile that seemed not to wane.
How would two souls
See eye to eye
When fists remain clenched
And hands are unwilling
To touch each other?
The path diverges
If the stomach contracts
From an empty table.
Who will stand witness
To the love that fills
A hungry mouth?
When two people who vowed
To live together forever
No longer understand each other.
Linda T. Lingbaoan (Hermilinda T. Lingbaoan-Bulong) is of Tinguian descent. A trained psychometrician, she earned her Bachelor of Science degree and master’s units in Psychology at the Saint Louis University in Baguio City, and also took courses in Industrial Relations and Creative Writing at the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman. Most of her short stories, essays, poems, and novels in Ilokano have been published in Bannawag magazine, where she has served as a section editor (1983-1988), making her the first and so far only woman to be in its editorial staff, and after which she became the Associate Editor of Abra’s Tinig ng Bayan, and a contributor to the weekly community paper, Abra Today. Prior, she worked as a guidance counselor and instructor at the Divine Word College of Bangued (1980-1983). She worked for the human resource of the Philippine Heart Center (1990-1991) before her employment with UP as university research associate at the College of Arts and Letters (1991-1993), and as information officer (1993-1996), and editor (since 1993) at the UP Press, until her retirement in 2020. She is a recipient of the Cultural Center of the Philippines Grant for Essay (1994) and the National Book Development Board Writing Grant (2014) for her novel, Kalinawa (2016). Her poems, “Agmawmaw Met ti Ayat” (“Love Also Wanes”) and “Di Makaidna dagiti Rabii” (“The Nights Cannot Keep Still”), were published in Bannawag in 2014 and 2018, respectively. A multi-awarded and respected writer, she was named Most Outstanding Citizen of Peñarrubia (1994) for Literature, and has been given the Gawad Pambansang Alagad ni Balagtas (2015) for Ilokano fiction by UMPIL, and the Leona Florentino Award (2015) by GUMIL-Filipinas.
JL Lazaga (Junley L. Lazaga) is a multilingual creative writer, translator, and an associate professor at the University of the Philippines Baguio. He was a fellow at the first Cordillera Creative Writing Workshop (2007), a founding member of the Ubbog Cordillera Writers, and a past president of the Baguio Writers Group. He won first prize in the poetry competition of the Timpuyog dagiti Mannurat iti Iluko (TMI) in 2010, was cited by the Baguio Midland Courier as Translator of the Year for 2016 and 2021, and has been conferred the title of University Artist (2018-2020) at the University of the Philippines.