Tuesday, December 26, 2017


He Saw Me In The River

He saw me in the river
in the river bathing
he saw me he said I was more
beautiful more beautiful and he
held me down and held me down and
ripped me open inside
he left with his company when the war
was over and left the country
flotsam and jetsam
worlds colliding
like my son bearing his face
which is where he left me
in the river in the river
flotsam and jetsam remain(s)
my body faced down my hair
floating with the dead rats and
kalachuchi flowers
in the river my grave


The Poet’s Notes On Her Poem
The poem was written in response to Brian Henry's Quarantine, a collection of poems. I wrote it in the style and form of Henry's poems, but I was inspired and informed by Jessica Hagedorn's Dogeaters. In Hagedorn's novel, there is an absent presence, a character who was never really there but there nonetheless, and that is Zenaida, Joey's mom. If you recall, Zenaida was already dead when the novel opens. We don't really know much about Zenaida other than what Joey and Uncle tell us: that Zenaida was impregnated by an American GI who left her and the Philippines, that Zenaida couldn't afford to feed Joey and herself, that she sold Joey to Uncle, and that she killed herself by drowning in the river. This is all on p. 42 of the 1990 Penguin Books edition.

My poem is part of a chapbook that focuses on Philippine (M)others—OFC/immigrant (m)others, Philippine mythological (m)others, the (m)other/land, even my own (m)other makes a few appearances throughout. In "He Saw Me in the River," I imagined the woman in my poem as the Philippine (M)other/land who had been ravaged by the colonizer and left aside, thrown away and treated as garbage. The "river" is meant to symbolize Manila or Tagalog.

sheila bare loves to read. she is learning to love to write. it helps that she also loves wine. when not reading or writing or drinking, she is in the kitchen cooking. otherwise, you may find her on the yoga mat, the hot sweaty kind. or out on a run. she is part of the diaspora living on planet earth. she is an advocate of sustainability, compassionate living, and interdependency. metta.

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