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Two Poems by Ina Cariño

we dig / holes into the ground, fill them with dirt / from another shore, call it home.

Poetry | Poetry Tuesday, poetry
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.

Event Horizon

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.