Poetry / July 2018 (Issue 40: Writing the Philippines)

Siquijor, Isla del Fuego

by Erwin Ponce

They call me Black Magic Maria
but I am Santa Rita de Cascia,
the smile when paper dolls dance,
the whisper in the ears of albinos.

I listen to black stones
clink in water glasses.
I stare at bones
sinking in water.

Beetles lay their eggs.
Snakes slither through bamboo.
Turtles fuck each other
then bleed for us.

The sacred mountain here
is Mount Bandilaan.
And every Holy Week
I follow people up the mountain—

they gather herbs and
put coconut oil to fire.
There are bits of angel
wherever we walk.

The mambabarang and their la-ga,
hexes of piss and spit and hair.
The baptism of baby dolls.
There are healers and bad spirits here—

and heroic ghosts weeping on
this Island of Fire. This earth.
The balete tree becomes a tree
by killing another tree.

We are together
on this very world and
sometimes it rains so hard and
sometimes it just rains.
Website © Cha: An Asian Literary Journal 2007-2018
ISSN 1999-5032
All poems, stories and other contributions copyright to their respective authors unless otherwise noted.