It looms on the horizon riding the back of waves
raising sails in ashen canvas that can only burst
to spread fury and fire rains and dancing dervishes.
It draws in breath to still the air
so that palm fronds will cock their ears
and sand crabs will freeze their eyes
while rocks and roots will beat like bulls
a rhythm for an ancient ritual dance.
The fishing village long dry and knowing
of spells that cast the drought
and of sins that brought the spells
and killed the hidden oyster beds,
the diver who searches in vain for pearls
to thread his broken worry beads,
they now brace for the tempest hour.
It is like a giant heaving
a quiescent Poseidon awakened
by spirits guarding the gates between
the heavens and the history
of the flaming funnels of hell,
it has brows that darken the skies
and wiry eyes that churn the clouds,
nostrils that can send the waves writhing,
a mouth that can devour mountains
leaving maelstroms in their wake,
but ears that can hear the slightest sigh
chanting a covenant in the diver’s heart.
When its mouth opens and the scourge begins
the land can only cringe ailing and nameless,
and pray the thunderbolts will bring
the oyster pearls back to their
violated Elysian beds.
© Said Sadain, Jr. 1975
(‘The Tempest’, as it appears above, is slightly revised from its first publication in the University of the Philippines Literary Apprentice folio in the late 70s or early 80s, and its reprint in the Moorings Magazine Feb-Mar 1994 issue, Quezon City, MetroManila, Philippines)