Sunday, June 24, 2007

Bridge (Kalibukbuk, 1990)

I wake with his hand in my hair.

A mosquito coil has burnt to ashes.

I still can see gold in his skin, but also yellow and brown and red.
His mouth is a perfect bow, and his hand says, you knew but you did it anyway.

I knew.

His eyes bear traces of this archipelago’s trade routes and conquests, waves of peoples in his eyes. A Majapahit conqueror sweeping a Bali aga off her feet, an Arab bringing a struggling goat to an island of pigs, Malay sailors who’ve populated so many islands, the unstoppable waves of China, the pull of the equator, the draw of difference.

I can smell the stink of the ditch that runs through the villages to the sea.

My eyes are foreign, of the other side of the world, whose edges met this one long ago. Our words occasionally share the same roots. My uncle’s eyes slant up.

We look at each other and our eyes lose their shape, there is just us looking, each of our limbs intertwined. A look to cause a sailor to decide to not join the others as they continue to discover more islands, to see how easy it is to build a hut from bamboo, gather alang-alang grass for the roof to keep it dry and cozy, toss away cassava scraps to attract a few pigs and chickens, and make children whose eyes bridge sea and sky.


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