Poetry Month SpotlightAmanda Reavey
The Attrition of Luz
……………..In the beginning, there were no orphans, but God created a cloud which burst into a thousand pieces and it rained. The sky littered with diamonds.
…………….Language is a curious thing. How to shape her lips to fit this. It could be a flood or a dam. Her yaya said, “and she cries and cries and cries. Because that’s what Luz is.”
Home #3. Ormoc City, Leyte, Philippines
…………….Luzviminda knew something would happen two days before it did. She went outside where the air smelled like pig roast, sampaguitas and shit, and meditated on a stoop along the Malbasag River. She realized the circumstances of her birth were not unlike the baby Jesus. Her mother: unwed, pregnant. There was no father because she was immaculately conceived. No, there was a father; her father was god.
Home #4. Tacloban, Philippines
…………….She didn’t learn of her divinity until she was eleven years old, but others had already begun to suspect it when she was four. Her foster father, drunk on San Miguel and an unbearable sun, lunged at her with a karambit knife and the next thing she knew she was crouched down on all fours on the highest branch of a jackfruit tree.
…………….“She flew! She flew!” the housemaid shrieked.
…………….“She didn’t fly, she floated!” her foster mother said.
…………….That evening, at exactly 7:00pm, a social worker arrived. After three hours of trying to coaxing Luzviminda out of the tree, they decided to saw it down. Once on the ground, she looked up and shook her little fist: “Ako si Luzviminda. Huwag mo akong kalimutan.” I am Luzviminda. Don’t you forget me.
Home #5. Angono, Rizal, Philippines
…………….She knew then that she could grow wings. Once, she flew to the top of the Bay Leaf Hotel where there was a restaurant overlooking Manila Bay. She watched as the owner’s son snapped his fingers and a servant was immediately there. The Don Papas flowed freely from a carafe. How beautiful it must be.
Home #6. Taytay, Rizal, Philippines
…………….The process of becoming an adult happens very quickly. In a night that turns the blackness to lemon green, the moon ashen. Irises the shape of discs transmute into crescents. A shooting start fixes forever on the retinas. This is the moment he asks you how an Asian leopard cat moves and you immediately drop to the ground on all fours. This is Luzviminda. Before she bends, she whispers, “ako si Luzviminda. Huwag mo akong kalimutan.” I am Luzviminda. Don’t you forget me.
Home #7. Metro Manila, Philippines
…………….Luzviminda can’t think in the way you want her to. If you try to push her into talking she’ll start rocking –– an outrigger canoe several knots from where it started –– staring at the wall until she sees herself reflected back. The caretaker calls the children to the table for dinner. When Luzviminda doesn’t turn, the caretaker taps her shoulder. She flinches. Sensation hurts. What can we do? We stop. Instead, we wait. At the limit or point beyond which the thinking begins. Ako si Luzviminda. Huwag mo akong kalimutan. I am Luzviminda. Don’t you forget me.
Home #8. Metro Manila, Philippines
Home #9. Muntinlupa City, Philippines
…………….Days later, in a different house, she awoke to discover the white linens had turned red and she bled for six days. After, she climbed an iron fence and found a garden where she picked lemons from the tree and squeezed them, letting the juices run down her face, her neck. To cleanse the body.
…………….That day the Pasig River reversed itself and flowed upwards. Taking her towards the sky. Along an orange-red blue. What does it mean to switch hands? To go. …………….Again. To go. Again. To go. Again. Again. To go.
…………….Ako si Luzviminda. Huwag mo akong kalimutan. I am Luzviminda. Don’t you forget me.
Ako si ––. Ako si ––. Ako si ––.
…………….I am. I am. I am.
This poem was previously published at TRUCK.
About Amanda Reavey
Amanda Reavey is an Emeritus Poetry Fellow at Black Earth Institute and the author of Marilyn (The Operating System, 2015), which won the 2017 Best Book Award in Poetry from the Association for Asian American Studies. She is a member of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets and holds an MFA in Writing & Poetics from Naropa University. She curates the Tabi Po! Poetry Series & Open Mic every third Sunday of the month at County Clare Irish Pub in Milwaukee. More at www.tabipopoetry.com.
BMP Celebrates National Poetry Month
Happy National Poetry Month! For poets and poetry lovers—and perhaps for those who love poets—this is a special time. At Brain Mill Press, we like to celebrate all month long by sharing featured poets, and with our fee-free contest. This year, we’re thinking about poetry cycles, poems that speak to each other, forms that build on each other (like crowns), and the ways a poem can be a scaffold or foundation for other poems. Our words are often in response to other poems, and our own body of work is often an ongoing conversation. We speak to each other, with ourselves, and sometimes into the void—hoping someone will answer back.