When I look, the ocean roars.
With the city still ablaze beneath the rotting February sky, rubbled lovers now kissing
Behind us, I clutch your face and rub your bulging stomach with my hands. I twist my back
And ask if you’d wish to stay, the water below us swelling into a concerto. Salt melts into stars
While our small raft bobs and sways. We steer ahead, clinging to the scrawny driftwood for life.
Our deck is nothing but wool woven by my mother. Scraps of denim from the flattened factory
And cotton macrame, spools wounded and gathered by the village girls, now buried in patches
Of cashed indigo that could be burning at this very second. Our country knows only how to
Collapse at the slightest pull. But our unborn son will never know the pleading of his people.
Instead, from within the womb, floating in his exile of shark teeth and amniotic fluid,
He’ll hear me scribbling haikus between leafs of blackened paper. We’re sailing eastwards
While you’re questioning the moon about cheap labor and how desperation could exist
If God is an empty room. I’ll tell you how — even with no horizon in sight, I wept in joy.
Our people have kept the score. At H Mart, I scream when our son emerges from a melon.
As we slowly wash to shore, he turns blue. Boyhood becomes blossom becomes barkcloth.
Love moans at the sound of war. Nothing escapes us, even when we’ve made the world.
When I look, the ocean roars. Teeth to teeth, polysynthesis. Call my name, and the sky befalls.
Title refers to the artwork Handmade Landscape: Ocean Meets Sky (2021) by Stephanie Eche
Italicized lines form a series of tanaga, a type of indigenous Filipino tetrastich