This book of poems is dedicated to her three grand-children: twins Allegra Milagros and Elias Serafin, all of two years and 10 months, and Serena Indra, three months old.
Family is a connecting thread that runs through the lifetime of scenes and emotions caught in this book of poems written by Marra PL Lanot in three languages: English, Filipino, and Spanish.
The book, containing 145 poems, is divided into four parts: How do I love you? (English), Sa Kaarawan ni Serafin (Pilipino), Llevo (Spanish), and Selected poems (English, Spanish, and Pilipino).
Four of the poems are dedicated to Lanot’s parents—her late father, writer-astrologist Serafin Lanot, and her late mother, pianist-music teacher Gloria Licad-Lanot.
“My other self (for Gloria),” “Para kay Gloria,” “Sa Kaarawan ni Serafin,” and “Half of my Life (for Serafin)” tell of Lanot’s memories of her parents and her lament at their passing.
“…As a child, I remember my mother spraying midnight,
When her outside job and housework were done
And the whole neighborhood was asleep,
With music, the piano closed, her fingers
Running over invisible keyboard, her eyes shut,
Memorizing Beethoven’s Emperor’s Concerto no.5.”—My Other Self (for Gloria)
“Kung iiyak ako ng ilog
mabubuhay kaya ang mga bulaklak,
prutas, at puno na itinanim mo
sa harapan at likuran ng bahay?
…Makikipaghuntahan ka pa rin ba kina Ka Amado,
Ka Luis, Ka Alfredo, at Ka Sammy?”—Sa Kaarawan ni Serafin
“…Salamat, Mama, sa payak at praktikal mong payo,
alam kong anuman ang yakap at halik
sa mga huling taon mo sa aming piling, di ko
natumbasan ang ginugol mong oras para sa amin…
walang katumbas ang pag-aaruga mo, ang pagbibigay,
kung maaari lang, yugyugin mo ang prutas sa puno
at batuhin ang tala para ilawan ang daan namin sa gabi.”—Para kay Gloria
“My father left with half my life
he who taught me to dream and fight
to work twice as hard as anyone
to look at the stars and to listen
to shield myself when needed in silence,
poetry and music.
which he left to lead me on
for the rest of half my life.”
—Half of my life (for Serafin)
Next to family, Lanot wrote poems that remember fellow writers Maningning Miclat and Edith Tiempo, punctuating the beauty of their lives; the tragedy of their leaving.
“…You also chose to be first and foremost
A mother like other writers—Leona,
Magdalena, Estrella, Tarrosa, Kerima—
And you succeeded for you are woman,
Creator, mover, shaker, possessed
By the magic of words and of dreams.”—Brave Edith
“Palagi kang nagmumuni-muni
naglalakad sa bulaklak, sa ulap,
sa pakpak ng ibon,
sa dulo ng dalampasigan.
gumuguhit sa buhangin
at nagbubura ng linya
sa pagitan ng dalawang buhay.”— Kay Maningning
Her poetry reaches out to the death of botanist and plant taxonomist Leonardo Co, who was killed by members of the 19th Infantry Battalion of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in the forests of Kananga, Southern Leyte on November 15, 2010. It is a poem of regret and rage.
Kunwa’y magkakilala tayo,
Sana’y nagkakilala tayo,
Nakipagpalitan ng litrato at tula
Sa katahimikan ng umagang
Nababalutan ng ulap
At paano kung nagkataong
Naroon ako sa tabi mo
Nang punitin ng bala ang puso mo?
Hihiyaw ako ng katarungan
—Nasaan ang katarungan?—Leonardo Co
CADENA DE AMOR
Aptly titled, Cadena de Amor, Lanot’s book presents a chain of poems about family, friends, and country. There is love, passion, and vivid description.
“you are like a dream
that fades in the sunlight
Where shadows disappear.” —I think of you, too
“…your hand on my nape,
then sliding down my spine,
down the small of my back,
down where I try not to be reached.
…doubt is the name of love with a taste of tequila,
everything ends before it begins.”—Doubt
“…There appeared a prince
With a blazing sunset for his crown
And the rain for his robe
That played music to her soul.”— Once upon a thousand moons
Published by the University of the Philippines Press, Cadena de Amor is the latest book of poems by Marra Lanot. Other works include: Sheaves of Things Burning, Flowers of the Sun, Passion & Compassion, Witch’s Dance, and Riding the Full Moon. (Photos sourced from Facebook posts of Marra Lanot)