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Aubade on my first day as Manila native photo

I was too shocked to scream
at the roosters to stop crowing, their throats
                robust and practiced in a language I find myself

disarming at all costs. In my first few years
of America, I reveled at the sound of my voice
               clashing against the white girls’—throaty and heavy

where theirs threatened to curtail
into silence. How did I lose track of myself, I still ask
               no one in particular. The weight of it clicks my voice

into a cage. In the streets, a man
calls out the name of sustenance like 
                 another Hail, Mary—“Taho! Taho!” Even

in the plane, thousands of miles
between either country, I’d resisted the urge
                 to delirious myself into forgetting. There’s something

musical about laughter that breaks
into promised tears. It’s heavier that way, more formative,
               and easier to forget as someone’s undoing. Baliw na babae,

they’ll say instead of rushing
to comfort me as if they’ve felt the plumage
               rip from their breasts. It will be like the first time

I ever mercied a rooster 
into nakedness, in a camp near the clear 
                frigid waters of Lake Michigan. There was something

hysterically sad about feathers disappearing under 
the weight of water.  Have you seen the way they shoved 
                those roosters into the tiny spaces. And we’re still wondering why 

they scream so hopefully each morning.


Translation Notes:
Taho: sweet Filipino comfort food made of tofu and traditionally sold in the morning by walking vendors
Baliw na babae: crazy woman

image: Wander Fleur