The deluge is not enough to heal
Claudia Ann Seaman Award
Yvanna Vien Tica
Metro Manila, Philippines
“Over 700,000 children among the most affected as super typhoon Rolly/Goni hit the Philippines” - UNICEF Philippines
To revive the river spilling
from our farm, delusioned romantic
with all its sharp pebbles
for bones. To feel water flirting all over my tongue.
To wash it clean of rooster gizzards
greased straight from the palengke. To beg for the color
of it—clear unlike the earth
angry at us. Pity this: Tatay
killed our old horse yesterday,
and we tried to look away as he offered his last
tears to the sky. I’d like to forget that. To savior us
from the mosquitoes our young cousins succumbed
to. To savior me from hiding
under the wide fronds of our banana tree so I can cut
my hair against the rocks
in rebellion. To tear all my painstakingly starched uniforms
into offerings. To the mountain
mournful as ever. To suffocate this air of loss. Pity this:
Ate ran away to the city with a man
she barely knew and sends us money to keep Nanay
from searching though she refuses to eat.
To run and follow my sister without the dogs echoing
like haunts. To escape the horizon
with its fingers and eyes like boys hungry
for a girl’s long hair. To rage
against the sky who mocks us with floods
or memories of them. To rage
without consequence. To love empty pockets
without consequence. Pity
this: Nanay shredded the last of our rice to prepare
Ate’s favorite bibingka. Shrines
of them fertilize the farm, and Tatay lets them
stay even when the flies greed
over them for days, keeps me awake
with the multitude of them. Yes.
I’ll even forget that.
Soaked with grief, rage, and a glimmer of hope, "The deluge is not enough to heal" is a poem that haunts us long after we have devoured its lines. Each story of loss is intimate but distant, nostalgic but painful, and this dichotomy helps us forget, but also remember, our past selves.
Editorial Praise from Tara Betts, Poetry Judge:
While reading "the deluge is not enough to heal," the waves seen in the arrangement of the lines mimic the waves of memory rendered by the poet. These images of a home long gone wash over the reader, but even as the poet promises to forget, the repetition of the infinitive building a rhythmic series of actions, lets readers know how difficult the forgetting is, if it's possible at all.
Yvanna Vien Tica is a Filipina writer who grew up in Manila and in a Chicagoland suburb. A high school senior, she is the 2021 Hippocrates Young Poet and the 2021 1455 Teen Poetry Contest Winner. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Verse Daily, Poet Lore, Hobart, Strange Horizons, and Shenandoah, among others. She edits for Polyphony Lit, reads for Muzzle Magazine, and tweets @yvannavien. In her spare time, she can be found enjoying nature and thanking God for
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