Here’s another poem selected by author Joseph O. Legaspi.
During my 2015 Fulbright fellowship in the Philippines, one of the professors at Silliman University, where I did my research in poetics, shared with me her vivid memory as a child witnessing her mother bleed a hen, in preparation for dinner. Her mother dipped her thumb in the bowl of warm blood, then drew a cross on her forehead. She wasn’t sure what it meant. The gesture haunted me, and so I wrote this poem. I’m still not sure I captured what it could mean, this intimate exchange or transference between mother and daughter.
– Joseph O. Legaspi
Bleeding the Hen
She’s six and school has turned tiresome.
She storms home like a battering ram.
Her mother sits, serene as a water pitcher.
She drinks her up and bubbles inside.
Afternoon breeze, a spider spins its web,
catching little wings of island light.
Her mama’s shadow, the girl will lengthen
immensely from backyard into life.
She crouches besides her mother, bleeding
a hen from its plucked sliced neck.
Red, warm on her fingers the woman draws
a cross on her daughter’s forehead
as the hen convulses under the grip, fortifying
blood pooling at the girl’s feet.