Auditory Cortex / April 2018 (Issue 39)

An Ode to the Street Bride

by Gino P. Paradela

Beautiful bride of the sunrise, you who light up the dark alleys with your fluorescent skin at 2 am,

I see you.

I see you breathing behind the cartons thrown by the factories across the street.

I see you lie down in mattresses of stacked cardboard soaked in piss and spit.

I see you, Princess of the Neon Lights, in your throne made of bottle cases and old magazines.

I see you, Queen Most High, glowing underneath the flickering streetlights patiently waiting for chariots to come and pick you up to whisk you to their taxi palaces.

I see you in your shrine of makeshift driftwood and dumpster wastes relieving kings with the anointment of your majestic tongue in return for a warm coffee at 6 am.

I see you, you who wait for him in the dark alleys, illuminated by ten-peso flashlights to deliver the white powder mix—sniffed to escape the madness.

I see you, you who serenade the twilight with your broken gasps and moans when he uses you roughly.

I see you, you whose flesh is given as a sacrament broken and yet oh, so whole.

I see you, you who live in a paper-draped house with the faces of those who won your vote and promised you a better life that has never arrived.

Blessed be the lips that kiss your mouth secretly beneath the old bridge.

Blessed be your indifferent indignation to the mothers who curse you beneath their breaths.

Blessed be your indifference to the men who cheapen your beautiful body.

Blessed be your purity to forgive their daughters who use you as a bad example and their sons who see you as a one-time fling.

Oh, blessed are you, beautiful bride of the sunrise, you who light up dark alleys with your fluorescent skin at 2 am.

You have showed me love through your fingertips—and I see you...

and you



 Third Prize Co-Winner:
"An Ode to the Street Bride" by Gino Paradela (Philippines)

Lian-Hee Wee's commentary: Beauty is found often missed when it is among the humblest. One misses, or one misjudges. In this poem, the innocence of a fellow human being is unraveled in the two contradicting senses of the word: (i) undone and disintegrated by the injustices and lusts; and (ii) disentangled and transcended by tenacity and perseverance as observed by those willing to see them. The poet’s reading is calm, befitting the dark hours from twilight to twilight, but calm perhaps because there is such destitute. [Read other Auditory Cortex poems.]

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