In this village women lifts, arms carrying
jars filled of river-water held close
against our chest like a newborn child.
It grows the whiteness of sampaguitas’
fragrance to steal the rust in winds—
sings the way hammock sways.

When sunset falls, the burning of sky
to charcoaled lights of stars; nights
are open wounds we dive through
scavenging the wreckage
                   to bring salvation.
We swim around it, vibrating a chorus
of sirena voices to crumble
                 cracking the earthen vessels—

                  moonshine spilling its syrup
                  between our breasts,
to fill the faulty linings,
dawning it holy.

We stay at the cliff until morning
to watch over the reflection
sleeping in the golden sea
—waking up.



In many dreams, my tender,
red hands dries a pool of sea-water
into salt the shape of a girl & a thief.
The noon scorch through the bruises,
burning my flesh into a vapor
of her presence between us.
Its lingering scent sedates me into
a cocoon of many cracked mirrors.
Of memories with no windows.

In my dreams the shore breathes heavy;
every wave yells I remember.
Absence wrapped the entire sky
stirs the sea saltier into
a vacuum—

                 all these lotuses left of us wavering
                             across storms, sailing away
                      to bring new horizons of pastels.

Evening: the kettle screams
with too much heat I forgot to turn off. 
Or I lost my paper hands in blue seas
through this phase; this long
disappearance of your presence
forms yearnings the size of a boulder,
anchors my weightless lungs.

Somewhere, your voice leaks on walls
always inside this wooden house.



Across west waits a sea of lilies
damp of nightingale’s cold whispers.
There I lay mounting a beehive’s glow,
shivering & only petals covering.
I am the carcass’ poem your
animal inhabit after.

              Our fields where shade faints to clear.
        Our daughter peeling into cherry blossom.
             Everything in this landscape looks pink
                  like raw meat color of healing scars.

When mariposa flap its wings around me,
I see flashes of hinges loosening to
a flight apart to unhinged jaw.
I remember falling from the Tree—

                     ripe & free of wasp necklace
                     you made for my first birthday.

I am not yours.

The wind cascade into octaves
of a language we thrust by our hands.
Still, your apples dropped with me like
somehow, theoretically, I need you.



Pressed, petals & bones of sepia
comatose under the rubbles
of our story,
                 then we melt
into a liquid of fire-breather.
The body spells incendiar, burn
me to ashes, spells escape
to beginning
            to cleaning
                          to softening
our stoned flesh with milk & lavenders,
faces dissolving, spreading light
in the water like a golden
wheat field—as silk, honey
dripping from our spines,
    La pureza del alma
—tender & bare
we emerge from ashes.

KARI ASTILLERO is a Filipina and a student majoring in Journalism. Mesmerized with the universe and star-stuff who is in love with poetry and nature, a non-conformist and mostly alone drinking coffee while reading, writing or thinking (sometimes daydreaming). Her poetry has been published in Rambutan Literary, Rising Phoenix Review, and Werkloos Mag.