In her clinic in the camp, she whispers
Her prayers, hoping no one had been hurt.
But when the forest hushes from gunfire and grenades,
She hears howls of pain, Tabang! Tabang kamo!
Her instruments were all set, laid on the bamboo table – scissors,
Syringe, and bandages – waiting for the wounded.
A bloodied brother in front of her came with a headwound.
Scalp grinning, slit by a bullet. And she stitches it
The way her mother had sewn her pink abaya.
Curious eyes peeking, vision passing through amakan walls.
Veiled women outside covering their mouths.
Pink, sequined veil covers her head. “The color relaxes
The patient,” she remembers. As she buries the needle
In the warrior’s skin once more, she recalls how an old patient
Repelled her, refused her care, for she was wearing a veil.
She had not removed her tondong.
She had turned to another patient, since then.
She gave a slight smile behind her surgical mask
When “Alhamdulillah” came out of the wounded man’s mouth.
Fatima hears gunfire go off again as she washes her hands.
She closes her eyes and waits
For the forest to be completely silent.
Mohammad Nassefh R. Macla graduated from the University of the Philippines Mindanao with a degree in BA English, major in Creative Writing. He is a Kaagan-Moro writer from Panabo City, Davao del Norte.