M Sereno is a Filipina illustrator, designer, writer, and resident scribe of the queer Asian SFFH Illuminati. Forged in the fires of Mount Doom Metro Manila, she now lives in regional Australia with her partner, their ridiculous Pomeranians, and a cat who thinks she’s a koala. Visit her writing site or follow her on Twitter at @likhain.
Reasons I Checked Out of Diversity Discussion du Jour
1. I am ill. That is, my mind roils floodwater
cloud-spewed night after Ondoy night, fingers on my temple
drumming unceasing — not wanting to cease, until the flood
carried all the bodies away, rafted whole villages of the dead,
their mouths stitched shut by water, eyes mud-sealed
against all further seeing — pulled them under bridges
that became a river that swallowed a highway, a twilight
roofed in galvanized iron, shivering children, tented frames
of bloated corpses — away, all away, under the clotted curve of the moon.
2. We visit a vineyard, my beloved and I. It is just after summer,
Shiraz vines heavy with the pride of fruit, whole bunches of grapes
branched in clusters, straining against night-dark skins
with the fullness of sweet bursting. Almost bursting. Sun
combs through my beloved’s hair. What I am swallowing right now
is standing among other lovers, my beloved and I deemed only friends.
This is smallness. I hold my beloved’s hand in mine.
Friends is not a terrible thing, I say. Our hands tremble.
I wonder if branches grow weary with the weight of holding,
waiting for a harvest that will not come.
This poem, you all. I love all of Sereno’s poetry, but this one is my favorite. It does what the very best writing should do: it gives me a glimpse at what it is like to live in someone else’s skin–to feel their pain, exhaustion, and struggle. It’s wonderful and I’m so grateful to Sereno for the opportunity to read and to share it.