we dig / holes into the ground, fill them with dirt / from another shore, call it home.
May 31, 2022
The following piece includes mention of violence against women. Please take care while reading.
When a Woman Is Ugly
when a woman is ugly she roams
under strangler figs that choke the trees
along Balete Drive, Quezon City.
call her multo, ghost sheathed
in ivory silk, ether dragging
on the ground. rumor is,
she was raped & killed along this road.
cabbies on the graveyard shift swear
she is beautiful—but the kind of beautiful
that calls to mind the final swell
of red hibiscus growing in ditches.
in the taxi, suddenly she is bruised
& bloodied, suddenly she is ugly—
like a woman is ugly in full fright:
mouth rimmed with froth, spittle
foam dribbling down her neck—
all animal-eyes, roving desperate.
if an ugly woman stops you on the road,
dig for her bones under the biggest balete,
its vines smothering the mother tree
underneath. evenings, the wood plies
soft, for a moment bending
from the day’s residual heat.
yes, when a woman is ugly,
her limbs extend: crooked branches
casting shadows over asphalt—sobs
under the noise of passing cars, unheard.
we are the brazen ones who cordon off
the skies & parcel out islands. we dig
holes into the ground, fill them with dirt
from another shore, call it home.
maybe because we are human
we sift through the darkness of millennia
with a settler’s eye. we shackle the stars,
pretend yesterday’s light blossomed today,
if only to claim what we can see.