[state of emergency]

Barbara Jane Reyes

To honor movement in crescendos of text, combing through ashes for fragments of human bone, studying maps drawn for the absurdity of navigation — what may be so edgy about this state of emergency is my lack of apology for what I am bound to do. For instance, if I dream the wetness of your mouth an oyster my tongue searches for the taste of ocean, if I crave the secret corners of your city on another continent, in another time, in series of circular coils extending outward, then it is only because I continue to harbor the swirls of galaxies in the musculature and viscera of my body. You will appear because I have mouthed your name in half-wish, reluctant to bring myself to you. You will appear for me, because you always do, with earthen skin outside the possibility of human causation.

More by Barbara Jane Reyes

calles de los dolores y trastorno de tension postraumatica

your methods are unacceptable :: beyond human restraint :: things get confused i know :: the heart’s a white sepulcher and no man guards its doors :: against the growing dark :: incessant blades beat air :: incessant blades :: what means are available to terminate :: gook names :: with extreme prejudice :: you may use those :: blades beat :: easier than learning their gook names :: your boys don’t know any better than :: gook names :: dead men hanging from trees so far from the known world :: how does it come to this :: being blown to hell :: incessant :: gook names :: in panic mode trigger finger instinct efficiency :: incessant blades beat air :: blades beat :: dead men hanging :: gook names :: no sin committed :: no dead men :: to forgive.

Again, She Tells the First Story

Once, when there was no light, the wind danced with the sea, whose glassy surface became untame funnels and silver crested waves as she leapt and spun. How the wind also spun and let out a mighty roar. You have heard this one before, no? How earth convulsed as if laughing. How seafloor forced her fingertips skyward. How she freed her body from the silent, murky depths.

She who was born of the rocks fell in love with the one who was born of sea spume. There upon the rocks, they spread seeds and soil, and from these the bamboo sprouted. It rooted itself in those rocks, and some say kidlat split this bamboo open.

Others say a great serpent ruled the sea, and set upon his crown, a gleaming stone upon which the skyfolk spilled dark earth. I do not know why they tried to bury the serpent, but because of this, he hissed and lashed at them. The sea was once sweet and cool as rainwater. In the north, a medicine woman told us of her people’s prayers for salt. Hot winds brought to them fragrances of the dead. After the waters receded, how the shores became the color of clear crystals and blood.

Hija, I bring the sea tobacco leaves and fruit, but still no stories come to me. I plead with her, O diwata, pakitanggap po ninyo ang aking handog. O diwata, ang inyong mga salita lamang ang hinihingin ko. Today as ever, she gives me but silence.

Brown Girl Has Walked Into the Wild, Palms Open

		See how she lists. The body is bent as light, as wind will it.
And so you must tread light. Mind the rocks under foot. You must tread slow.
There has been drought; see where water has long ago troughed, has carved her.
		See how she branches, twisting, her many hands reaching.
Her roots also reach, sweetened from reaching. When fire arrives, she toughens.
She will slough away the thick. She will be slick, and dark beneath the rough.
She will mimic the fire her bones remember. Know her bones glisten.
		See how she rests. The body will fall, as time wills it.
See how it hollows, how her pieces return to earth.
	And from her thick trunk, mushrooms cluster—
			Her belly a nest of moss and poison.
When broken open, see what of her mother she has kept,
			what of her father, what of the stars.