Kalyna Review

Maya Lowy

I Join the Ghosts at Malacañang Palace

 

At first, all three children sleep with her in her bed. They are frightened of footsteps echoing in the halls, frightened of floors that gleam. She dreams sometimes of the crowd from which they handed her a swaddled one to bless. The mother’s gray, brown teeth. And how when she parted the blanket the child was already dead. Sometimes she swoons. Sometimes she shrieks. Sometimes she kisses the cooling forehead and returns it to the withered outstretched arms, pretending nothing happened. Sometimes the dread wakes her surrounded by the live warmth of dimpled hands and cheeks, the skinny limbs of her own anak-anak, still or kicking.

 

Other times, she dreams of a lance-headed pit viper. She was born in the year of the snake.

 

As the children grow used to the big house, they return to their own big beds. She asks President Marcos to sleep with her, or she join him in the night. Her perfume marks his skin and his sheets with her scents. He too is slim, and he is always tired. Rarely do they kiss in private. He sleeps shrimp-curled on his side, a pillow between his nubbly knees. And she watches the ceiling fans. The weight of her robe sinks her into the bed.

 

 

 

 

Things I’d Like at the Café

 

Long-fingered barista, I’d like you

to invite me over. Show me around your hardwood

bookshelves, at least a 900 on the Janka scale:

your shelf of Márquez and your shelf

of academic texts by the like of Howard Zinn.

 

Prepare your crocheted potholders

and rugs, and unveil some outmoded contraption

(for example: a typewriter, a microscope).

I’ll wear your scarves, and I hope you’ll say

That looks so good on you you should keep it.

 

Next, buy us a date in flotation tanks

to suspend in salts and the dark,

then emerge and suck water like hummingbirds.

String me through a corn maze,

tethered to your waist with a monkey’s fist.

 

Let me steal your pens and orange lighters;

I’ll tell you about the power outages and cucumber salads

of my childhood under Gray Davis,

how my uncle would mail us coffee with cardamom,

how my father would fly to Nepal for weeks

and bring back photo slideshows none of us wanted

to watch, and they’d languish on the screensavers for years.

About the author

 

Maya Lowy (1991-) grew up in California and is currently completing her poetry MFA at the University of New Orleans. Her work can be found in Quaint, the Golden Key, and other publications.