Seeing the Body

You recognize them in countless cities you've 
passed through; witnessed speech and gesturing

in markets and airport terminals, in languages
you recognize.
They like to make a kind of

pilgrimage to famous churches in every place
they visit, perhaps the way something felt

like obligation so you walked to the Baguio
Cathedral even in the pouring rain, that one

time you returned after close to two
decades away. Inside, it seemed brighter

than you remembered: the exterior walls
once painted a creamy egg yolk now

a shade of muted pink, a gilded resin
angel lifting a bowl of cloudy water

by the door. There was that one time
you joined a line walking to the nave

where a life-size statue of the crucified
Christ was taken off the wall then laid

on a velvet-draped bier, just like a real
corpse. Like the others, you touched your

finger to the painted hollow of the wounded
palm, a nail-gashed foot. The faithful—that's

the word always used—beat their breasts,
pressed their lips against oiled wood.

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