Kaingin is upland farming requiring a portion of the forest to be cleared for planting; also known as slash and burn farming.
Everything turns sacred early morning
When dark forest cleaves to brightening sky.
We turn our faces towards the east,
Offer a prayer to all beings enchanted
As the sun mounts the ancient ridge,
Our bodies tense with thanksgiving.
Neighbors from open spaces have arrived
To help us harvest the fragrant rice
We dearly keep for our own families,
To celebrate the return of migrant birds,
The safe distance we keep from the plains
Where landlords impose their claims.
We trust the blade of our sickles will sing
Always in tall grass, sharpen at the crack of lightning.
Today we thresh our indebtedness from blessed rain,
Winnow uncertainties from the grain.
The salt of our sweat fertilize the earth
Where we have felled the trees
After ritual blood from a rooster has been spilled;
We slashed and burned to clear a pocket of wilderness.
Where root crops and vegetables are located
We buried the broken half of my wife’s comb
So the leaves will flourish like her wonderful hair.
Where maize and mountain rice are growing
We embedded a sewing needle so the seedlings
Will grow straight, strong as monsoon.
Tonight my tired guitar will serenade the moon,
Inspire lovers to elope, exchange life-long vows
As they stand in the shallows of flowing stream.
We recollect each day gazing at evening sky,
Ease pain with quiet flame and fold to sleep
Using a humble blanket of woven stars.
There’s ample time to repair whatever despair,
Fix our imperfect dwelling with irresistible laughter.
by Victor Peñaranda
(After Kaingin by Nemiranda)
(Nemi R. Miranda, Jr.)
Oil on Canvas