Nanay tells me about the dead bodies outside
her Talisay home: the 1970s murder spree
by communist insurgents within the heart
of the Visayas. She speaks matter-of-factly,
as if decay were her birthright, piles of stiff
limbs a girl’s typical walk-to-class scenery.
I want to ask her why, as if she could explain
slaughter, but I recall my US birth & silently
laugh. I chew on my tongue because I’m stupid
to think there’s a more to massacre, a rhetoric
to shroud the reflection of Ma’s hometown:
a mass graveyard. I imagine, years before,
aswang sniffing out corpses in public school
restrooms & hidden berms, a humanoid sheen
across the ghouls’ eyes spelling hunger, or joy.
As in, battle-born flesh tastes of palabok,
that mix of savory pork & salty shrimp restless
spirits leave behind on skin like a remember-
me, like last week’s buried pot of kimchi.
I wish them peace, I lie to her. I hope, in secret,
that the souls were all consumed. Blood seeps
into the afterlife & pollutes it with trauma
that conquers pedigrees. I was born with ghosts
in my eyes: I look at Ma & yearn to eat hers.
Dani Putney is a queer, non-binary, mixed-race Filipinx, & neurodivergent poet originally from Sacramento, California. Salamat sa Intersectionality (Okay Donkey Press, May 2021) is their debut full-length poetry collection. Their poems appear in outlets such as The Chaffin Journal, Hairstreak Butterfly Review, & Pedestal Magazine, among others. While not always (physically) there, they permanently reside in the middle of the Nevada desert.