The City of Manila Writes a Letter to Abner Dormiendo

by Abner Dormiendo

I’ve withstood enough storms to know how it feels
for her to leave you like that. I have three airports
several major roads, and countless highways on my spine,
every single one of them leading away from here.
What’s going to stop her from deserting your heart
like the aftermath of a police raid? Who’s going to see
the lamplight swinging violently, your words like cigarettes
burning abandoned on the ashtray of your throat?
I am a metropolitan mess, with robbers and murderers
coursing through my veins like poison, monuments crumbling
on the sight of a civilization slowly turning into ruin.
But you, a man with faith big enough for your chest,
with a hunger bigger than all my beggars groveling
in the darkest of my alleys—you are young. Your legs are strong.
You have a heart the size of Batanes, not nearly as storm-proof,
but resilient enough to remain loving. Aren’t you so lucky
to be alive? To be able to leave or stay
at your liking? You lucky, lucky man. Don’t let the world
turn you into stone. Your flesh is not of concrete,
and your soul is not a city.