On Opening Body Bags After Haiyan

You can watch this poem here. 

On opening body bags after Haiyan

I can only imagine it

like unearthing a scab

Zipper breaks vertebrae one

by one

There is not enough relief here to hide the scent of what this child used to be

before the water washed out the sun in his skin.

mothers trying to dig through themselves

an umbilical chord to lend life to a limp ghost

the coconut trees are not high enough to see over the inside-out that was made here

bags do not have the honor to be called burial plots

churches aren’t supposed to be Mausoleums

Tacloban was morphed into Ground Zero.

I watch this while it snows in Madison Wisconsin

A place where it’s easier to be a rodent than it is to be a colored person

This place drowns my people in a different way

I inhabit both places like a jig saw corpse trying to find itself whole

These brown boys in Tacloban are not my cousins

But I want to carry them to safety

These brown girls in Tacloban are not my daughters

But I want to tell them that there is still growing after this choking

But I’m still an ocean away

A language farther from root

A skin tone lighter than the sand

Born there, raised here, home nowhere,

Watching this storm is a sorry excuse for mourning

It is to need the sun desperately

It is to figure out that your body is in this country

But your grief is in the other

To look at your house

walk to the river

and come back with no house

is to be filipino

To look at your motherland hurting

from a TV screen

is to be Filipino American

Looking at the islands through the blue eyes of Anderson Cooper

is the most American I have ever felt.

but still I pray for them

and I cry for them

because God tried to make them Atlantis

when they weren’t ready to be myth just yet.

Because rebuilding is the Filipino’s most intrinsic instinct

But most painful trauma

Relief is just a word

whose tagalog translation i don’t even know

This poem is all i can give

For a country bleeding in salt water.

Hail Mary full of Grace,

the Lord keeps trying to drown us.

Hallowed be thy bodies

Thy kingdom come down in waves and winds

Thy will has been done

On Earth as it is destroyed.

Give us this day our daily rations

And forgive us for living

As we forgive those who have tried to kill us

And lead us not into more typhoons

But deliver us from breaking

Holy Mary Mother of God,

pray for us whos skin always means sin now and at the hour of our death.


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