My Father’s Family Fasts the Slaughter to Feast the Arrival of His Bride

Ilocos, Phillippines

What did she permit him to see, my mother, the first time
he brought her to the ocean—the goat, hungry—mewling
in the distance while my mother shrugged her shirtsleeve 
down, her shoulder fragile in new day? Or was it her wrist 
which implied the unfreckling of her forearm? The susurrus 
of flycatchers... softened bleats of starving. A hawk is circling 
closer. What do we see when we see? I can see my mother,
but never my father. His shadow darkens her arm. Her breast

sinks to a curve we three know—, and there’s enough time 
for hair to come loose, the popping of a button. A rat reveals 
himself in the corner the way a woman tenses in and out
of light—: and my mother is coming to that point of breath- 
lessness, humidity speckling her birdwing clavicles—
and the goat’s hooves rustle—: above mud, before harm.

From For Want of Water (Beacon Press, 2017). Copyright © 2017 by Sasha Pimentel. Used with permission from Beacon Press.