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Poetry

Juggler

By Mesándel Virtusio Arguelles
Translated from Filipino by Kristine Ong Muslim
A juggler’s performance raises philosophical questions in this poem by Mesándel Virtusio Arguelles.

Swapping seven balls with his palm,
and with air. Precision inhabits the gap

between the ball’s trajectory and its anticipated
pace at the brink of hesitation—

the arc of descent. How does one grasp making
sense of timing when to hurl and when to catch?

Is it when one rehearses alone or when one rehearses
being alone? Which one holds

when there is no break from motion,
and from emotion? They thought, he makes gravity.

Then in a blink of an eye, oh! the balls are dropped.
They have yet to stop holding their breath.


© Mesándel Virtusio Arguelles. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2019 by Kristine Ong Muslim. All rights reserved.

English Filipino

Swapping seven balls with his palm,
and with air. Precision inhabits the gap

between the ball’s trajectory and its anticipated
pace at the brink of hesitation—

the arc of descent. How does one grasp making
sense of timing when to hurl and when to catch?

Is it when one rehearses alone or when one rehearses
being alone? Which one holds

when there is no break from motion,
and from emotion? They thought, he makes gravity.

Then in a blink of an eye, oh! the balls are dropped.
They have yet to stop holding their breath.


© Mesándel Virtusio Arguelles. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2019 by Kristine Ong Muslim. All rights reserved.

Juggler

Salitan ng pitong bola sa kanyang palad,
at sa hangin. May presisyon sa pagitang

tahak ng bola ang landas o ng landas ang bola
sa ritmong nasa talukap ng alanganin—

lagi sa pagkahulog. Saan inaaral ang pasya
ng pandama sa sandali ng pag-itsa at pagsalo?

Sa pag-iisa sa pag-eensayo o sa pag-eensayo
sa pag-iisa? Alin ang nasa kamay

habang walang humpay ang mosyon,
at emosyon? Wari nila, lalang niya ang grabedad.

At sa minsang pagkurap, ay! mangangalaglag ang bola.
Halos nawawala ang kanilang puso sa lugar.

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