Melona was a fellow for poetry in the 2012 Davao Writers Workshop. Her collection of poems, Wild Fire, was published by The Road Map Series in 2019. She’s currently a lecturer in the Creative Writing Program of the University of the Philippines Mindanao.
This piece is included in the English-language section on “Departures” that will be published in Issue 68 of Voice & Verse Poetry Magazine.
from my head, strands of black-brass hair
depart in stop-motion style
across my face, crawling
millipede-like and webbing
my eye to my lip, my brow to my nosehole, my fore-
head mole through my front teeth, flossing
the gaps. In the morning there’ll be a nest
waiting under my tongue.
in between doorways:
a woman tows her baggage back and forth
looking for signs of the exit.
She takes a turn but she’s led back
to our kitchen, swamped with rugs and rainwater, cake flour
soaked and ready for the eggs.
When I ask where the sugar is, the woman turns to me
and becomes my mother again, the minotaur
lost again in the labyrinth. In the meantime, let the house soak
in the smell of spaghetti sauce, and misua soup
for long life.
as they are:
I part an old Bible
and find the small stash of hair,
still black and thin, my mother tucked between
two browned pages of psalms.
On my palm, the trimmings weigh
the sum of my mother’s prayers
which I now release, deep into the bind,
buried yet undying
among the names of those in exodus.