AILEEN IBARDALOZA Reviews
Passage: poems 1983-2006 by Edgar B. Maranan
(Bookmark, Manila, 2007)
BOXING THE COMPASS
Passage “is a rousing trip / to innocent time … / a bracing ride / through windswept meadows … / as if (we, Poet and reader, fellow travelers, have) lived within light and mercy, / as if we had not died before …” So there you see its almost-Proustian effect on me. Images of ‘misty tracks’ act as retrieval cues, bringing forth other remembrances, other ‘heaving lands’. “This is how it always is before a war …” There are eight parts to this 23-year journey, sapiently mapped and marked where places and times have been most trying and sobering, but otherwise redeeming. Maranan’s Passage is more than a poetry collection. It is a compass rose. A device that indicates, gauges, orients. Each part reads like a point – Voyage West, Endless Land, Fall Country, Hinterland – and each point, a direction. Here is where “The man, when bright and burning, / remembers other rivers, other boats / and passengers …”
As a fellow traveler, I accept the invitation to ‘engage,’ if only to inform my interpretive process. As such, reader becomes subject, the “you” or muse of whom the poet speaks, on that “sun-stunned day / by a pond called serpentine / (where) your touch brought me warmth …” In "The Laws of Motion", however, I take on the poet’s voice: “These days in paradise, grapes ripen on the vine / with no one looking after them. Soon this yield will fill mouths with succulence, or touch lips with / a tang both sweet and sharp. I dream of walking / through your vineyard, plucking your ripeness.” Again, self-referencing induced me to (re)experience unreconciled longing and constant movement as played up in part by an isolating, allegorical vineyard. Of Passage’s imageries, I can only speak in absolutes. Such as ‘friedhof’ for “it is exact / and lovelier, more infinitely sad and final.” Of its rhythm and form, I resort to the language of trains, i.e., moving parts and connected lines that depart, arrive or re-route for the purpose of conveyance, “It chugs through poem country / opening up green stanzas / with no punctuation …” And its language, both elegant and lepidopteral, I ascribe to the poet’s penchant for engaging nature and culture and other generosities.
Does the ‘sadness of stones’ affect you? “Landscape,” says an Irish poet, “has a secret and silent memory, a narrative of presence where nothing is ever lost or forgotten.” Maranan ends with ‘blinding void and wordless time,’ and I sit here oddly bemused. This is where we disembark, Poet and reader, fellow travelers, “With our now and then / scattered, spirit-bodies / one in laughter in this / and the boat of words … “
Here is my compass, here is a rose.
Aileen Ibardaloza’s works have appreared in various online and print media, including The Blind Chatelaine’s Keys by Eileen Tabios (BlazeVOX, New York, 2008) and A Taste of Home edited by Ed Maranan and Len Maranan-Goldstein (Anvil, Manila, 2008).