PATHOS

By: Cynthia Ann Katon-Alfonso

Sep 01 2011

Tags: , , , , ,

Category: Disasters

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He was just a score and three

When he passed away

From over-inhaled charcoal fumes

That proved toxic to his lungs.

Three years ago that was

In a hospital ward before Christmas

He was warned by the doctors

Not to go back into making charcoal.

But there was not much his

Typhoon-ravaged town buried in year 2004

By mud and landslides and tons

Of logs and uprooted trees could offer

To assuage his family’s hunger.

He wanted to go back to rice farming

But their farm was entombed

By three meters of thick mud and skeletons

Of trees and logs

So he decided to make charcoal instead.

He stayed out in the open

Night and day guarding well

The half-charred logs inside the ground

Putting out the flames

Keeping out the smoke and air

So as to produce saleable charcoal

Good and burned just right.

He loved his family very much

He worked his young body to the limit

And never once complained of the looming

Shadow of hunger which threatened

His family’s existence

Once he stopped working,

Neither did he complain of hard

And labored breathing the day before

His lungs and heart gave way.

On Tuesday we will bury him

In the miry-covered terrain

Among those who four years earlier

Drowned in the rampaging flood

And the muddy landslide

In the country’s one tragic history.

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