Customary for us to see the moth
As a departed loved one, contrast
To the wall. It has found a shade
In our All Saints’ Day sense
As if not happenstance to find one
The day we pilgrim to the cemetery.
I recall seeing one next to papa’s
Picture framed in the wall.
I prayed for his forgiveness
For stepping on marble to wipe glass.
It remained. Father, my first English instructor
Who threatened my iron head
With the leather belt coiled round his hand.
Mine was a restless childhood,
Play my only wall, study the flame
I loathed, so my parents would say
It was grandpa come to visit.
But this one adding more brown hues
To afternoon’s white silence
When the poem moves
With what it teaches.
The day quickly piles minutes like dominoes
Squaring in the arena crowded with discards.
No one wants balls this round. The dice dealt me
Three chows of Chinese characters numbered
1-2-3, 4-5-6, 7-8-9. Twin red dragons eye
The hemp bird whose wispy melody tingles
Three bamboo sticks like vertebrae waiting
For the two that completes the hand.
The fourth east wind finds my three in a kong.
Heart thumping, I draw from the flower wall.
My ethnic Chinese grandmother said break
A block and blood oozes. Stamping a thumbprint
On tile and feeling the etched calligraphy of
Another victory, I pray to her to be luckier.
First published in Anak Sastra: Stories of Southeast Asia
Jonel Abellanosa resides in Cebu City, the Philippines. His poetry has appeared in numerous journals, including Windhover, Dark Matter, Poetry Quarterly, Star*Line, Fox Chase Review and Burning Word, recently in Pedestal Magazine and Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, and forthcoming in Anglican Theological Review and Mystic Nebula. His chapbook, Pictures of the Floating World, has been published by Kind of a Hurricane Press. He is working on his first full-length collection, Multiverse.
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