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."