New Year on my mountain
mama says: long noodles, long life,
so I slurp them loud, drink gingery
broth—polka-dot beads of sweat
forming as my nose hovers over
the soup’s steam. circles for luck.
circles on my dress. papa says:
make a lot of noise! so the children
bang on pots & pans to hush
yesterday’s demons. later, in the cold,
the family plods up the hill to wonder
at the fireworks, sky like a warzone lit
with spraying flames from Roman Candles—
fire on the ground from Watusi whips snaking
& coiling, sizzling our feet.
I feel it all in my chest—
a warning, a spell.
back in the yard, granny doles out rice
& meat, pineapple liquor, glass bottles
of Sprite. but I am snoring by midnight,
my sisters & I still swathed in red chiffon.
by morning, I cry because I missed it.
I cry because they say I’m not alone.
I cry because home is a warning,
its pulse a whiff of flint in the dark.
Copyright © 2023 by Ina Cariño. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 17, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.