Litany of my search

From the original Filipino poem, “Litanya ng Paghahanap” by Joi Barrios-LeBlanc
English Translation by Ninotchka Rosca
I seek out
The vanished.

Piecing together eyewitness tales,
Assembling evidence,
And take my case
To the courts of justice.

I seek out
The disappeared.

Sidestepping nightmares,
Dark, damp rooms of torture
And moans,
Prisons of no name, no address.

I search
For the missing.

Not knowing where the journey starts
Nor where it will end.
The heart haggles with fate:
Hand me the battered body,
Wounds can be healed;
Return the disturbed mind,
Sanity can be restored;
Tender me the broken bones,
The ripped-off flesh,
Even the unrecognizable corpse,

And the heart will welcome
What it has sought,
The disappeared,
The beloved.

Yet do not misconstrue even for a moment
That I ask, or beg for mercy.
Take the abductors to trial,
Those who mock the law,
Masterminds of violence.
I seek the missing,
As the missing seeks justice.