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Who am I?
I am history in one body
millennia in one lifetime
conceived in sin cavorting
on a bed of nails
and redeemed by love,
reliquary hanging down
a virgin’s slender white neck
parted with in innocent tears

Who am I?
three hundred years my heart
a colony of circumnavigators
resistance on the port
where blood was shed
and the rest of my life
looking for the real me
in the battlefield they left behind

my senses a restless choir of impulses
bound to my family’s honor and
the rising sun,
singing religious passions
and hymns of untamed beauty

I am beautiful and you have honored me
you called me extraordinary
you said I was not like any
of the other seas you have sailed on
you learned the words to the kundiman
and you braved the nights
of thrusting your spear on the doorstep
like a nobleman of these lands

you have been favored and found worthy
and they gave you my hand

so why brandish your sword now
and betray my gentleness?
why desecrate the meek sand
and mock the flag that’s flown
over my vessel long before you came?
why wear different clothes now
and exchange your ego,
a foreign invention,
for the peace of mind of my ancestors?

you said your heart has been slain before
by souls that hailed from
the spoils of modern thought
and my chaste, mother-of-pearl spirit
was your savior
and that was why you came looking for me

it comes with a price
I am who I am

“Cintai Corito’s Garden Engagement” by photographer Oly Ruiz


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