Rumpus Original Poetry: Two Poems by Yvanna Vien Tica

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Creation Myth in Tagalog

Land as concession, breezes
as intermarriage. The sea explains why
she hates the sky with so much

love in her eyes, how she begged
the kite to leave her
in peace. Bamboo as a child left adrift

at its mother’s breast,
humanity as consequence for
someone else’s undoing.

Still, the kite argues it was never his
fault, the birth, the conflict,
the separation of the heavens. How he begged

to be left in peace,
the rocks hewn timid across his flightless daughters.
So, earthquake as a god,

creatures as determined judges.
On the witness stand,
the parents explain they never wanted

so many children loitering their bed, how they
begged the violence
to scatter them so they might earn some

peace among the palm
trees swaying like bodies along the beach.
Fear as gestation unmade,

involuntary luck as societal status. Those who hid
in the house argue
that their wisdom justifies chiefhood while the sea

winnows children for herself,
unseen, bleaches them in pursuit of the clouds,
and allows them to come long

after the war had finished to wage another. The white
children explain why they bear
the sea’s blessing upon them. How they begged

for their own share, so they
might leave the rest of us in peace. War as love
sundered beyond recognition,

creation myth as justification for the disasters
birthed and enforced among us.
And how we begged for peace. How we begged.

 

Awit for Rizal

December 30, 1896 

O Dios, O dusa / grief unfurled like a sanggol tearing his mother’s hair / that day, could you foretell everything / to come—a dog whimpering over your body / head bowed like a santo pleading / for your dignified wounds / O palad, O puso / that day, could you see close enough / to witness the tears of the firing squad—or were their eyes dry / and rough like the bone of a bird / familiar with your body / only as sacrifice / O sayang, O sigaw / that day, could you hear the Americans / sainting you a hero because you refused / to take up your espada even if you died / by its lusting tongue, your farm / somewhere crying for water—you must have known / O mestizo, O martir / you must have known the firing squad / by the way their skin / glinted like lupa under the sun / by the way they freed the dog before the second / round of kamatayan / Oy aso, Oy alis! / could you hear the colonizers laughing / at their own joke / I beg you to leave me / a remnant of yourself, anything to help me / love this inang bayan / word by word—but your portraits stay / as silent as ever, eyes staring like a man’s intent, set / on a mother who laughed first, deserted second / the grief just coming into bloom like your beloved pinya / the needles of them sticky and as sharp / as the whistle of your last breath.

***

Photograph of Yvanna Vien Tica by Casai Vien Tica.


Yvanna Vien Tica is a Filipina writer with a hearing impairment who grew up in Manila and a suburb near Chicago whose work has also been recognized by The Kenyon Review, Princeton University, and The Poetry Society UK. A high school senior, she is the 2021 Hippocrates Young Poet, the Winner of the 1455 Teen Poetry Contest, and has been invited to read a poem virtually in a 2021 UN Climate Change Conference event. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Verse Daily, Poet Lore, Shenandoah, and Strange Horizons, among others. She edits Polyphony Lit, reads for Muzzle Magazine, and tweets at @yvannavien. In her spare time, she can be found enjoying nature and thanking God for another day. More from this author →