A Daughter of Diaspora Comes Home

You fly 4 hours 
to your mother’s province where
at lunch, your family listens 
to the chismis of the barrio 
while you speak 
to the itlog and the bagoong 
and last night’s rice,
to the bangus on your plate 
that your mom debones for you,
your fingers, too American 
to distinguish the bone from the meat
that you will dip in the sawsawan
communing at the center of your plate.
Your hand-me-down tongue 
converses fluently with every note 
of sour, sweet, salty
salty-sour lips puckered 
from the calamansi juice, 
the soy sauce and the vinegar, 
the taste of sugarcane fields
and a hundred years of economy.

At dinner, Laughter takes your seat at the table, 
accent thick, hands yelling, eyes bulging, 
lips pointing in a language you
cannot understand, still 
you grasp at words you might know, 
stitch an incomplete picture,
a good joke with no punchline
and your mom, who has grown 
tired of translating, explains
It won’t make sense in English.

Does she know you still have dreams in Tagalog?

Photo by Ashwini Chaudhary(Monty) on Unsplash