Monday, May 22, 2017


After Alex Tizon’s article "My Family’s Slave" as regards Eudocia Tomas Pulido 
(The Atlantic, June 2017)

The Woman Next Door

She unfolds 
between chores, in a form 
she knows to be fleeting—
that is, the balance 
of inconsequential sums,
the sum of everything 
she had discarded:
The pile of clothes impartially held 
its breath as the woman sorted
out the  t̶o̶x̶i̶n̶s̶ tokens of
a life with few
choices and higher 
odds. What were her chances
and which ones did she take?
And for whom.
She resumed
the folding, eyes on
the inevitable creases.

In the Island of Good Boots

One had to be groomed - by culture, by tradition, by authority - into servitude.
—Ninotchka Rosca

Of course, kasama (companion) 
sounds gentler, more
charitable, somehow, less
demeaning, even, when
compared to katulong (helper),
utusan (servant) or, heaven 
forbid, alipin (slave)
—a word which hasn't been used 
in over five decades—
Pakibili ako ng _____.
(Please go to the store and buy me _____.)
Pakikuha yung _____.
(Please go fetch _____.)
Paki plantsa.
(Please iron.)
is a gentler, somehow more
charitable, somehow less
demeaning version of utos (command).
"One had to be groomed - by culture, by tradition, by authority -" to be 
a benevolent master.
Please tie my shoes.

Aileen Cassinetto grew up in Manila and moved to the U.S. almost 20 years ago. Since then, she has released a poetry collection, traje de boda (Meritage Press), various narratives on cultural memory (via online and print media), and three poetry chaps through Moria Books’ Locofo series.

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