THE THREE TEMPTATIONS
"What death would you desire?"
She says: "A bronze death that yields
a cloister for the heart; or that
which is charter for a giant, a silver death;
or that for which one must labor:
one's sacrament, that's a death of gold?"
Alas, how can your pilgrim choose?
Always there's the hissing of fire--
On my neck creeps the salamander!
But here on this steadfast ground
earth whereon the mighty have fallen,
gnomes choir a bronze hymn to you
and yet could I but rear for myself--
a giant's head far from all solitude--
O how the undine's luster shall flood
into my silver sepulcher! For it is fate
out of gorges between sheer cliffs
that gives us wings for pilgrimage
and you who dance like a scented sylph
on the winds have not, have not
the golden character of grace
and should you but pray for me
'a fine and private place' plucked up
for this death, my death, that's golden
to you alone I give my only name--
"Oh, now, what death would you desire?"
She says: "There is only my embrace."
- by E. SAN JUAN, Jr.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
E. SAN JUAN, Jr. was recently visiting professor of literature and cultural studies at National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan and lecturer in seven universities in the Republic of China. He was previously Fulbright professor of American Studies at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium and fellow of the Center for the Humanities at Wesleyan University. Among his recent books are BEYOND POSTCOLONIAL THEORY (Palgrave), RACISM AND CULTURAL STUDIES (Duke University Press), and WORKING THROUGH THE CONTRADICTIONS (Bucknell University Press). Two books in Filipino were launched in 2004: HIMAGSIK (De La Salle University Press) and TINIK SA KALULUWA (Anvil); his new collection of poems in Filipino, SAPAGKAT INIIBIG KITA AT MGA BAGONG TULA, will be released by the University of the Philippines Press in 2005.