Two Poems

An abstract painting suggesting two bodies reclining
Photo: Lizzie/Unsplash

Nag-aagaw-dilim

Filipino idiom meaning twilight (literally, snatching darkness)

Hold the flashlight and I’ll raise my hands, make these shapes for you to guess at. The wall is a page, shadows invisible ink with the heat of breath on it. Flick the dark into life. The floor our bed. Everyone has a temper these days. Let’s stay small, hide, quiet. My fingers form a mouth and ears and eyes. I bark a small clue for you. Will that do? You look away. The poor are often unlit. Undefended. This I know. Something rasps against the door. Our candles become currency, the air grainy, brown. Lights out. Remember this is the past now. I can never go untouched at night. Even the wind is all over me.

 

Naging bato

Filipino idiom meaning became valueless, lost, frozen (literally, turned into stone)

If Medusa were Filipina, I would want her power. Many’s the time when one of us is gazed upon without consequence, when one is apprised, judged, appraised, for sale and consumption. This will be an end to it. Imagine people scurrying and scrambling, abandoning their tilapias, their bagoóng, their balut, and tribal tattoos, their instances of condescension falling, like crumbs to the floor in their bid to avoid my gaze, and turn all their ideas of escape as mere grooves and chipped messages in sandstone, small grass tongues tangle in my eyes, graze my ears with gentle portent, the wet bead on each fang a dew on my skin, aspirating blessings and curses in equal measure, which I save for later. The brine of my foremothers’ sweat calls to me, their thirst ever- and all-encompassing.


Photo: Andi Crown

Ivy Alvarez’s collections include The Everyday English Dictionary (Paekakariki Press), Hollywood Starlet (dancing girl press), and Disturbance (Seren). Born in the Philippines and raised in Australia, she lived in Wales for a decade before arriving in New Zealand in 2014.

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