April 22, Earth Day, is also the birthday of one of the Philippines' most illustrious writers, National Artist for Literature Edith L. Tiempo. Poet, novelist, short story writer, critic, and professor of literature, she was mentor to generations of Filipino writers who attended the National Writers Workshop which she co-founded with her husband, Edlilberto K. Tiempo, an accomplished writer as well.
Her poem "The Fisherman" is an apt meditation for Earth Day.
All day his floating face tangled with the net.
Each haul the meshes thrashed with angry tails,
The clustered eyes clamored and the slime and scales
And gills quivered with his own disgust. Yet
Once, a boy fished where the fishes were more tame,
A stream where he dipped a small hand and the fishes came,
And when he gently chucked their bellies with a finger,
They slowly wagged their fins, roiling the water
Hardly. Man now, he seized a fish and peeled
Its scales alive and flung it in again;
The naked creature hit the reefs and reeled,
The water swirled--he jeered to see the little stain.
He stalked again, he flung the net into a school,
Drew in the catch, cursed each thrash and pull;
He grudged the clutching mollusk its involuted stores,
He pried that this scrupulous oyster part its pearly doors;
His hunger scooped the sea, he preyed and trapped
And tore the masks. Around him all the voiceless faces wept.