on forgetting

by ISABELLA BORGESON

                                         after Safia Elhillo

 

Tanauan mud is black

with baby's limbs

drowned dogs chained

to the toilet bowl

 

climb the bent back

of coconut

trees laid

to the ground in prayer

to the wind to lola

begging no more typhoons

 

mama scolds me to stop swimming in the ocean

 

bastos

how American, iday

to play in the mouth of your family's grave

in the ghost of crumpled seawalls forget

concrete has never stopped an ocean's teeth

 

from biting through the highway

plucking babies from tatay's arms

as tita desperately climbs the coconut tree

before next storm surge wave

swallows her night gown 

 

there is a mass grave crawling out my tongue

each time I ask my mama to speak in English

 

 

mama say I just want someone to water my orchids when I'm gone

 

 

but I leave & forget

the copper taste of canned food relief goods

forget to call mama next typhoon

 

open the bathroom door

my uncle is weeping into toilet bowl

as he recounts the family that died

when Haiyan blew his firewall on top of them


 

blue passport child

of American tongue,

leave your homeland & forget

your mama

 

the helicopters arrive

with more cameras than relief goods

mama say how dare you take a picture of all these bodies

 

iday, how can you leave

when we still got all these bodies

only call now when you need someone

to fix the Waray in your poems

 

my mother is an Ocean away 

 

no one has ever looked at me & thought of water

 

preparing for the next typhoon

 

& i killed her orchids again

 

laying sand bags

to stop the waters from rising

 

forget mama can't swim

 

in our empty house of ghosts

 

forget the holy of her hands

washing red ants from my feet

bringing life back to the guava &

green papaya trees in lola's garden

 

forget all my promises

 

to come back home.