A Kung in the Philippine Jungle, 1945

Kenji C. Liu


Lush empty,
a map for battle.

In the blue undergrowth,
no wife, no songs, no daughters.

What part do you see first,
o conquering flora,

my step-republic, or my landscape
clothed in sky, not mine?

You undress me by the light
of rifle, sweat, radio.

My bare flag unfolds for you.
Your victory, a terrible beautiful.

My skin, not chrysanthemum.
But orchid cuffs, broken toe of moss.

Between conquerors,
how beautiful the clothed are.

But I am thumb, heel, tendon.
I am fauna.