Birds of Paradise by Marjorie Evasco


‘Women with Birds of Paradise,’ by Anita Magsaysay-Ho, oil on canvas, 1982.

Birds of Paradise

after Women with birds of paradise, by Anita Magsaysay-Ho, oil on canvas, 1982

Their eyes are black slits against

Gold of their burnished skin this side

of morning. They do not shatter silence

with chatter of the marketplace.

Only their hands speak of the task,

gathering the day’s burden of beauty:

birds of paradise singing in tongues,

wings spread over and between

their heads, a feast of burning angels.

The youngest among them bends down

deepest into herself, wrapping the green

stems in a second skin against breaking.

The night before, she had watched the sea

while the gravid moon rose red as her belly.

She tore off her white bandana and broke

into the waters, her black seagrass hair dis-

entangling, waves hissing low ‘let be, let go!’

Marjorie Evasco

About Marjorie Evasco

Marjorie Evasco was born in Tagbilaran City on the island of Bohol in the Visayas, the central part of the Philippine archipelago. Evasco writes poetry in two languages, English and Cebuano-Visayan. Her two books of poems, Dreamweavers: Selected Poems 1976-1986 (1986) and Ochre Tones: Poems in English and Cebuano (1999) both won the National Book Award for Poetry from the Manila Critics’ Circle. In 2006, Marjorie’s book Ani: The Life and Art of Hermogena Borja Lungay won the Alfredo Ongpin National Book Award on Art from the Manila Critics Circle.

She has received various writing residencies and grants, including the Rockefeller Foundation writing residency in Villa Serbelloni in Bellagio, Italy (1992) and the International Writing Program of the University of Iowa, U.S.A. (2002). Her poems have been translated into German, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, Russian, Kannada, Romanian, Vietnamese and Estonian.

An interview with Marjorie Evasco


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