Tag Archives: Veronia Basilla Tarabi

Sea Fireflies of Mindoro

Sea Fireflies of Mindoro
for Veronica

That was the last time
We laughed like children.
Water warm as the tropical air,

It was impossible
To grow cold and wish to leave
That darkening, calm beach.

We took moments to see
The water held
No mere reflection
Of the silent bursting of stars.

Points of light gathered
Round our limbs.
Wave a hand and they grew more
Luminous. We were surrounded.

Stilled. Galaxies
Unfurled with the gentlest
Sway and curl
Of our fingertips.

Beating lights traced our skin
That would never again be this
Close to constellations,
This warm.


Veronica is a very good friend whom I’ve known for many years. We call her Barok – the name of a character from a comic book back home – or Veroche (yes, it sounds like that other word for a type of bug) which the late Fr. James O’Brien did not approve of (perhaps jokingly? I’ll never know). She has worked with various tribes and sectors of Philppine society that do not often grace the headlines.

This poem tries to recapture a time when we were young. We were among a group of friends who shared the legacy of Fr. O’B’s Tulong-Dunong Scholarship Program. We had graduated from various universities by that time, and decided to go on a group holiday. I can’t remember how many we were who went on this particular trip to Mindoro’s coast, those beaches that are hopefully still as enchanting, though not entirely free of danger: tsunami, earthquake, poisonous sea snakes, to name a few.

It is Barok’s birthday today. Maligayang Kaarawan, mabuting kaibigan!

This poem was first published in UNDER THE STORM: An Anthology of  Contemporary Philippine Poetry (Manila 2011). I hope to see this in a new collection tentatively called The Sound Before Water.