Rice Grains

Man and the water buffalo have been companions from
                        the beginning,
Industry and strength naturally fuse;
        the wildness of thorns
is cleared by the far-ranging plow,
        the fields are tilled,
the upturned soil is harrowed.

Rain and warmth in turn bestow
blessings upon the purified soil,
        after a week,
fat seeds are spilled on earth,
and after that a million little spears wave at the sky.

When the stems rise to the span of two fingers,
the plants are ranged in rows and ranks;
                as it grows,
palay becomes an emerald sea;
    when the wind swirls,
the fields turn into green, waving hair.

Together the womb of the mother and the earth
are plowed and sowed;
        when palay
burgeons, after warm nurturing,
        life responds, too,
in the swelling breasts of the caring mother.

After nine months of growing,
the grains of the stalks burn ripe;
            the stems
bow down with a teeming load.
    Beneath the mother’s heart
the secret can no longer be concealed.

Palay is reaped; the bales of gold
lie about on the joyful abundant earth,
            muscles that defy
fatigue, soon heap and bind
        the bales,
piling them up in towering mounds.

How bountiful is the harvest,
the joy of lovers in the dear fruit of their loins!
                a happy baby
is born out of the bodies of mother and father . . .
                O, predestined season
when man and palay are as twins.

Before Christmas, the child is christened;
how fragrant is the cooked rice on the table,
            the newly-pounded grains,
puddings and cakes and every kind of sweet.
                Out of this soil
come the beauty and the hard reality of life.