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Inauguration -- poetry by Tara Tulshyan

In Manila, bodies pile

where mothers bruised their babies to sleep,

bodies’ limbs carving open the sidewalks, small

paths that are now warnings. Sometimes,

the bodies eat bullets from the roads, mouths open

waiting for stale water. In their stomachs

there is a river, washed away by jeepneys and still

in its place, a heap of red posters. The city wakes

when rain splits into tin foil houses, unafraid

of the children who sleep above tombstones

their skins ripe from rubbing the rosary. Each prayer

to the red banners came back as peso coins.

A son against a widow whose husband still rests

in Masbate. The son’s father now in heroes’

cemetery, and again the roads are strewn with rain

and mouths, children reaching for another

afternoon. Today, we watch them. We watch their faces

drift into Manila bay, rising to the surface, waiting

for the radio announcement, pink and red bodies alike.


Tara Tulshyan is from the Philippines. Her works have appeared on or are forthcoming in DIALOGIST, Kitaab, Okay Donkey among several others. When she isn’t writing, she’s probably drinking matcha and reading newspapers."

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