Pasdan River

By Amalia Bueno

Ocean rolls, swallows
river in its salt mouth.

My hand seeks heavy water
where no mangrove skins float. 

A bend in the river yawns,
coils itself around forest

of dry bark, half life branch
not much green

stretches lips toward shallow
dirt bank where river sits as stillwater pool.

A carabao invites herself to sink
in silk mud, a luxurious moment.

The Pasdan allows aramang, kippi, tukmem
to harvest its greens along the edge of her waist.
Shrimp, crab, snail, and ballayba
root at her belly, sway at her feet.

My baby Grabriela awakens, swaddled
in white bright as she smiles at the sun

she dreams of breathing in ocean
suckling clean river streams.

The river roars as I scrub
the week’s dirt from work shirts

slap them flat against black rock.
Labandera, my basket is heavy.

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