Poem: Motherland, I am your borders

Andrea Aduna, Contributor

Motherland, I am your borders.

I am full of borders crossed

over and over again.

Rigid lines separating

my dark brown skin to my

American tongue to my

too stout with no bridge and my

ilong (1)

love for vinegar with my longanisa (2) and bangus (3)

. I have cracks and fissures that separate me

from a motherland I’ve never been too.

smelling like fresh produce and full of people,

Palengke (4)

deep mountains and crystal blue water in the provinces,

all a childhood I’ve dreamed about.

There are no earthquakes that create these fissures

just typhoons and storms

wars and conquests from imperial powers.

Where my ancestors traveled by boat

Malay and tribal, matriarchal societies that

saw me fit to rule as spiritual leader and warrior,

were broken and destroyed.

I am 300 years worth of colonization

rolled up into a ball with cracks

defining the edges of rape and destruction of a

pure body that

now prays beneath the feet of a merciful and forgiving deity.

Aba ginoong Maria, napupuno ka na grasya.(5) To eating menudo and counting in both Spanish and Tagalog

Isa, uno, dalawa, dos, tatlo, tres, apat, quartro.

I’m counting the days where I stop

lightening my skin with belo products

and doing the process of ‘tangos my ilong (6)’ to

feel and look beautiful

in a land that is foreign to me and one that forever sees me as foreign.

For beautiful country, motherland whose bosom never really carried me

I am the cracks and borders that broke you apart

but I sing “lupang hinirang, duyan ka ng magiting,”

“sa manlulupig, di ka pasisiil.” (7)


(1) Nose

(2) Pilipino sausage found in breakfast

(3) Fried fish

(4) Fish market

(5) Pilipino translation of “Hail Mary, full of grace.”

(6)“To pinch ones nose.” Tall noses with pointed tips are considered beautiful in Philippine culture.

(7) Lyrics from the Philippine national anthem. “Land dear and holy, cradle of noble heroes, Ne’er shall invaders trample thy sacred shore.”