One of poetry’s many superpowers is the ability to lend a voice to the dearly departed. “Inferno” allows Melanie Trinidad one last moment to speak to her beloveds, who survived the fire that took her life. In the last breath of their life, the speaker moves through longing, anguish, memory and grieve before the light of their life goes out. The speaker faces death saying, “Do it / as merciful / as ash / as exact / as agony. I make / the sign of the cross / because I can’t help myself”.
Graduating student, Melanie Trinidad, dies trying
to save laptop from burning house in Quezon City
– Manila Bulletin
0. God / I asked / to be saved / not salve / not salvage / not salt / but the water. I confess.
I ran / towards your choir of flames / like a verse / because I hoped / to hear your voice.
1. Simple as that. My God / calling my name / in the playground. The sweat under my shirt
2. impervious / to his absence. I did not know / I deserved it. I eliminated / disbelief and almost
extinguished / most thirst. Believe me
3. I wanted my lola / to die first / because I prepared / for longevity. Lord knows / I measured her
4. pulse / to my own / when I hooked her rosary / to her rugged wrist. I reassured her
5. with this life / and nothing more. I asked for nothing / more of my God
6. and my mother / to arrive / at this mutilated corpse / except memory. Do it
7. as merciful / as ash / as exact / as agony. I make / the sign of the cross
8.because I can’t help myself. Let me / lose access to myself / Lord. Let me / leave my own grieving
9. Let me / out and not / enduring / this earth.
Rigel Ruel Portales
Rigel Portales is a 20-year-old Filipino poet afraid of disappearing. Fortunately, his works have appeared/are soon to appear on Palette Poetry, Frontier Poetry, and Cha with a poetry chapbook, DEAD BOYS MAKE THE BEST MEN, forthcoming from FlowerSong Press in the US. He's currently a poetry staffer at the Malate Literary Folio. You can find him on his Twitter account @rijwrites where he writes to preserve and preserves to write.