Ten Parts of an Expedition

1. Some people joke about how immigrants can't tell the difference
between jokes and non-jokes.

2. They're always so serious, even when their co-workers
slap them on the shoulder and say I was only joking.

3. In our world we don't fool around with language; words
are like spells— once said, they cannot be unspoken.

4. According to one legend, the tree of heaven fell
into the earth; its branches, once heavy with sweet
oranges, snaked through rock as veins of gold.

5. A true map will show where hills have been leveled,
where plains are barren as sorrow; where soldiers
came with guns to finish off the livestock.

6. This is where ships with foreign flags first dropped
anchor in the bay; the shore, lined with rough grass,
was a mouth sealed shut, never speaking of El Dorado.

7. You probe through fissures in rock; as you go,
your body inching forward makes a tunnel.

8. The gods will not tell you if the roots of the tree
are in Kabayan or Kibungan.

9. One does not fool around with language; that
would be irresponsible. Listen instead for thunder.

10. You knew what was yours for as long as you can
remember; when someone takes your finger to make
a mark on paper, the taste of rusted metal
fixes in the air.

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