Monday, May 22, 2017


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

Grandmother, Slave?

her hair, forever in a tight
silver bun to keep from touching
our faces or the food she served

her hand, like father's leather belt
forgotten on the red cement
steps in the rain

her tongue, unable to navigate
the language I spoke, stayed
in the cove of silence

her front teeth, a fence
left unmended after a truck
drove right through years ago

her memories of Ilocos Norte
I never asked, I never knew
the name of the lover

who could have offered her
another life before childbirth,
before war took over

my family, the solitary orbit
of all her remaining
days and nights

I cannot recall celebrating
her birthday even once,
but a scene persists

she is washing the smooth bottom
of my baby sister while chewing
betel nut, humming

Jim Pascual Agustin writes and translates in Filipino and English. He grew up in Manila, the Philippines, during the reign of the late dictator, Ferdinand Marcos, and moved to South Africa in 1994. His poetry has appeared in Rhino, World Literature Today and Modern Poetry in Translation, among others. His self-translation from the Filipino of “Danica Mae” won the Gabo Prize for Literature in Translation and Multilingual Texts from Lunch Ticket and Antioch University. In South Africa, he has won the DALRO Award for Poetry second prize as well as the Sol Plaatje EU Poetry Award 3rd Prize in 2014 and 2015. Agustin’s eighth collection of poetry, Wings of Smoke, was recently released by The Onslaught Press (Oxford 2017). He is currently working on new manuscripts that contain work criticizing the bloody war on drugs by Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte and commenting on socio-political events in his South Africa. Blog:

No comments:

Post a Comment