By | 1 May 2020

The laundrywomen no longer frequent this river
bend because soldiers have begun to bathe in it.
I hate the forest, its camphor chokehold. The pool

where you disrobe. Your stateside fatigues
collapsed in the dust like a dead man. Judging by the way
you ambled into our town, nobody would

have guessed you are the same age as the school-
teacher. You are here because you claim
there is war in the mountains. Because we fly

your flag in the school quadrant every morning;
the throat of Candaba’s main street emptied
of all your debauchery, the church

bells aching to be filled with sound the way
you dive into water and occupy it; the pond struggling
to remember its shape. I think I desired you then,

or desired how you held her
frail brown hand like a sparrow in the ivory
mortar of your grip. How that hand would

later hold her jaw, her neck, your melting
fistful of ice cream. Her laundry
hangs shamefully on the clothesline

and something is wafting out of the barracks.
Hey kid, you whistle. The acacias hum, full of the dark
honey of wild bees and your tongue is a fat sow

turning in the sorry spit of your mouth. I have dirtied this
water. I have led you to it. The stink of summer follows
you like a wounded dog, and I am no longer a child. Hey

kid, you call again. I turn away from the water. Caught
in the trees, God in a starched dress dangles
the waning moon like a lure.

after Juan T. Gatbonton

This entry was posted in 96: NO THEME IX and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Related work:

  • No Related Posts Found

Comments are closed.