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I won’t translate everything - Dina Klarisse

I have a confession. There are landscapes of my mother tongue

I do not wish to share with you. It’s not that I think they are mine

or that the world can survive without them. They are necessary

and vital, but for that I clutch to them, tape them up, hide them

in the folds of memory & memory-making. Truthfully, I get tired

of the sharing, of displaying heirlooms so precious that mga kamay

na hindi namin may hold them too dearly, tear the fragile seams,

spread the fabric way too thin. We are so used to spreading thin.

If you ever wonder what the words mean, welcome. It’s a maze

we all walk through, hands splayed on both sides to imprint

ourselves, mark the passages we’ve been, the ones we know.

Don’t worry, a translation exists somewhere. But don’t you ever

relish the savory of unknowing? Pickle it, new achara of vocab,

words you collect as you leave bread crumbs so that others

may follow — hopefully, inevitably. I don’t want to be known

inside-out for the sake of being understood, don’t want the gift

of sympathy as you watch with popcorn our searchings & longings.

When a loved one leaves & comes back, it’s customary

to bring a gift. Pasalubong is more than a souvenir & memento,

more than a gift, really. It’s proof that you are on their mind

even as they traverse cobblestone, wade through crystal

waters you have never heard of. A small thing, a large thing,

it’s all the same when placed in waiting hands.

"These poems are part of my forthcoming self-published poetry collection, Physics for Daughters. I explore different themes through language and form, but in particular these pieces are obsessed with the body, individual and collective memory, and legacy. As I grow into my late 20s, I've found myself more and more fascinated in how my spiritual and physical body digest trauma, joy, and memory. I wrote these poems in an attempt to unravel all of what it means to be a daughter from different perspectives: post-colonial, biological, feminist, to name a few." -- notes from the artist


DINA KLARISSE is a writer, editor, and recovering Catholic. She writes to investigate the intersections of language, history, culture, and identity. Her work has been published in ASU’s Canyon Voices, The Daily Drunk Mag, Chopsticks Alley, and Kalopsia Literary Journal, among others. She is the author of the poetry chapbook, HANDSPUN ROSARIES.

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