The Mussels Again

Poetry submitted by John Ray Bantasan

Saline, the air ballooned
Her lungs into a fistful
Of breaths. Yet again, she wore
On her hair last night’s soot—

A fine bamboo specimen
Chopped like the nails of her foot. Abdomen
Afire, she plunged headlong into estuarine bloom
Whose currents held tight repose

Without ever being cut
Away from its home. Red-eyed,
She resurfaced like whitecaps.
Hands scooped around glinting mire,

Her pulse mimicked that
Of her son’s— empty-bellied,
Brittle, and brined. And
The son thought, “the mussels again?”

“Was there a time when this water
With its barnacled womb
Could give birth to a pork, to a chicken?”
He would not have those tonight.

She would not have him tomorrow,
For even thoughts, encapsulated, could not
Escape the ears of a mother
In sorrow, in deep labor for borrowed

House, borrowed boats, and borrowed
notes. Heart afire, she plunged
Headlong into estuarine gloom,
Past the seas whose currents funneled down

Into sandy dawn—the late greeter of noon.
She resurfaced, eye socket an oil well,
Caesarian scar an aching wound. And the son
Thought, “I’d rather eat the mussels again.”

John Ray M. Bantasan was born in the 2nd of October, 1998. He is currently a forestry student at the Caraga State University and is the outgoing editor-in-chief of The Daily Tanglad, its official student publication. He lives in Butuan City.

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