Instructions for calling the soul back to the body

It swings imperceptibly on the slack
end of a clothesline. Dark hooded shape,

wings glossier than tree ear mushrooms, its
marble eye fixed on my own. Every afternoon

I come to the kitchen threshold
and there it sits; I almost want to raise

my right hand and swear with my left
on the cover of a sacred book. It never stays

long— swooping into the bush to stab
a worm in half before arcing away

into the sky. Vines settle back upon
their blue-green cowl when it leaves.

Say to the soul, I know you. Chant a spell
learned long ago: Maykan, maykan, di ka agbutbuteng.*

*Come back, come back, do not be frightened. [Ilocano]

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