Angela Gabrielle Fabunan


There are few places worth committing

to memory—one: the New York skyline,

two: the traffic on EDSA, three: the horizon

in which we never meet: the sun, the sky,

the sliver of water between us. Tell me where you are

and I’ll tell you what you are: an immigrant in NYC

is a foreigner in Manila, neither one belonging. In

or Out—perhaps there’s a place we can call home,

but right now there’s just this, an in-between,

an in-articulate space for vignettes: where you left your shoes

the other day, the missing umbrella stranded in the rain,

the heart you broke. It remains vague—

not there, not ours. A hello meant to say hindi, I don’t care anymore.

A goodbye meant to say oo, I’m coming home soon.

Words meant to prompt emotion, reaction, but what else?

A Filipino welcomes with hands tied, a farewell with

a blank gaze: I know and I’ve heard. Americans do it differently,

say, point-blank, what you don’t want said, say

we always have an ulterior motive—mine, as a Filipina living

in America, my heart on sleeve, my self hidden within—

all I wanted to say: hello and goodbye at the same time.

I still don’t know the difference. With you

I don’t know what I am, only who I am. When I return

this is what happens—I say we are in NYC and EDSA

simultaneously. Both colonized-colonizers, yet neither.

I am the ocean’s white sea foam; perlas ng silanganan.

You are a hero, a myth, a shadowy figure.

I am the mango heart left beating in your hands.



“Midway” is from The Sea That Beckoned (Platypus Press, 2019).