Insatiable Haibun

They joke about it all the time: how talk turns to food 
even as they reach for one more serving: tapsilog, kamatis,
sawsawan. Salt rolls vs. pan de sal? Pan de sal. Dilis and 
champorado. The chain of their labors extends from dawn 
to dusk, punctuated by dishes set and dishes rinsed, 
the shk-shk-shk of winnowed rice; the thud of a cleaver
across a feather-plucked body, the slow coagulation
of liquids on porcelain. When there's not much
left in the larder, there are green bulbs of sayote, 
their telephone coil tendrils wisping under the trellis,
unafraid of fire ants. Someone is telling that story again: 
how there are leaves that numb the palate and vines 
that take you down for a long sleep. How during the war, 
you'd walk the ditches in the rice fields at night, looking 
for frogs or snails. Every hillock is the space of some
unknown listening, every frond to graze your arm a letter 
in shorthand. Tear banana hearts open: look for matchstick 
tiaras under thick red pleats. Houses go under water,
villages burn down to ash. But what's doused in vinegar  
or dressed with salt still has the opportunity for another life. 

It's hard to tell what's good
for the body, when everything's singed 
with just the right amount of fire.  

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