Michelle Peñaloza


Night after night
I mine the dark water of memory:

face and hands a darker brown
than the rest of you

face made from the sun of bougainvillea-planting

we built a pond beneath the Tennessee sun
whistling a song
          Bahay kubo, kahit munti
sidling through magnolia

my hands ruffled round floating leaves
the glint of koi scales brought to surface
gold daubed into the rings of my prints 

Anak, name the fish
you carried the shade

the fish alone in their twist-tied globes
touching and not touching

a thin impermeable layer
bobbing them among red scarf lotus
purple hyacinth
Ang halaman doon, ay sari-sari


years later
they hid your face and hands
beneath a white sheet

we lay still
touching and not touching

I try to whistle
in the silence

my breath
the thin layer between us