At the dinner table, we eat kamayan, to let our hands
taste the food first. Our hands know sacrifice
the way only women do. A fistful of rice
means comfort. An open mouth & a belly full.
The sharp zest of calamansi runs down my palm
into a dish of soy sauce. In this dream, the kitchen
is a dressing room – we peel the layers
like a second skin & listen to the careful rustle
of movement around us. I watch myself
in every mirror & become a girl made of windows.
Shy as a peach tree, blossoming like banana leaf.
All the quiet in me. This act of undressing
is always nameless & I refuse to wilt. My mother
never taught me how to cook, but I know what it means
to save the last serving for someone else.
I walk away from the table as my father would.
Chair untucked, plates scattered. Footsteps
carrying the weight of someone foreign.