IBONG ADARNA

by Felix Fojas

 

In Filipino folklore there is

An enchanted bird called

Ibong Adarna that will grant

A host of boons and magical

 Powers if you have a stout heart

 

And are bold and daring enough

To confront its avian terrors.

Once this legendary sky climber–

The Bird of Paradise itself whose

Feathers are of emerald and gold–

 

Senses your mortal presence,

It will unleash some lilting notes

That will put you to slumber

And rain upon your heroic head

Its droppings that will turn

 

You to stone like Medusa’s

Deadly stare. Your only slim chance

Of survival is to keep

Wide awake by slashing your wrist

Skin-deep and squeezing the juice

 

Of calamansi, a native lime,

On the wound, inducing

Excruciating pain–the only

Pure and holy sacrifice

The Goddess of Beauty accepts

 

From her devotees composed

Of true artists and lovers.

Capture you must this epic flyer

Perching upon a tree lit by fireflies,

Lest it should fly in the upper air

 

And leave your skillful hand and loving

Heart petrified; and the blank

Canvas or slate of your mind,

As white as an arctic nightmare,

In suspended animation.

 

Los Angeles

Feb. 14, 2012

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