Friday, November 29, 2013

Promised land



By Yohanes Manhitu

To Timor, my lovely island

Here, lies under the sky, the land of virginity.
It is the land of thousands of dancing figures,
It is the island of sandalwoods and free cows.
Here, you will taste the honey of friendly bees.
And listen to the echoes of melodious tongues.


I find myself in a room surrounded by white walls
And some thick bibles watching me with no words.
But my heart is with the wind, blowing on the land:
The dry piece of earth where I first saw the moon
and learned some verses from my mama’s song.

Kings and queens are best heirloom curators, I guess.
Behold, finest sandalwoods are swinging from hands!
Virgin forests are kept as symbols of nature’s peace.
Holy ancestral tongues are symbols of backwardness?
O promised land, magic site, there is always tomorrow.

My mind is on the land of Sonbay, a great king, and hero.
There, stand Mutis, Lakaan, and Tatamailau, true pyramids.
The Female and Male Seas, lay in harmony to guard the land.
Conical huts and white houses stand quietly near rice fields.
Dialects and clothing say where a man has been given a light.

Flood and fire, not beauty, have caught the eyes of the globe
to the land of true ancestral vows marked with cups of blood.
It is not the land that has resurrected evil and born blindness.
It is mortals who have learned from desire how to torture.
The promised land will remain my promised land. It will!

Yogyakarta, 7 November 2003

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