By | 1 May 2021

They told me
as a toddler

with fat on each side
of my tongue,

swaddled between
ate Cathy and tita

that I should be bitten

between a thumb
and index

because I was
gigil na gigil talaga


Gigil, the root word
for frustration

caused by

Gigil, they said

teeth grit
chewing back

brown lower lips
barely containing the blood


They told me I was
the opposite

of a rice queen
which is desire with no name

a silence
in whiteness

like snow, they told me
I’d water fields

even in monsoons,
a fork for a tongue and eyes of Bohol

would make a baby face
out of a high chair


They told me to take
as many helpings

as I wanted,
rice, soy sauce and kraft singles

on round cheeks

a cuchara,
an arrowroot

behind milk teeth I wobbled
ilocano, tagalog

until they told me to translate
the semitone

on a sherried lip
the moaning, they said

for what I owed an older mouth
in a harness


They told me this but we are now

from the manly to

real men and flannel
flowers, on a sunday

softer than two ships
passing in daylight,

the gap between them
the distance of shoulders


I told you
to lick my

because the safest memory

is the whet of a tongue
drawn in salt,

I say it to the small of your back
to the clef of your wanting,

where sin still leaves dimples
deciduous, and your throat will know

the lord loves us,
it will know

that he is so very,
very good

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