The Quotable


Last time they made love, his body reminded
her of mountains in the Philippines: summer, grass
seeds between her teeth after she stripped

the stalk bare.  Maybe it was the smell
of afternoon sun in his scalp, the taste
of rice and green earth from the lunch

she cooked for them: her grandmother’s pandan rice
and cod, baked in palm leaves, garlic, and vinegar—food
from an archipelago he has never seen, soaking

his tongue.  Or was it the confidence of his long
fingers that traced circles around the strawberry
tattoo on her back?  So easy to remember

the time when she knew she was lovely.  Up in the mountains,
by the neighbor’s magnolia, she remembers
pungent sweat dripping down her sides.  Here,

the dampness of her shirt at the waist.  He grips
her skin where she arches towards him.  So wonderful, she thinks.
To never be afraid to slip the straps off her shoulders,

to be beautiful, to press into him, fearlessly.  Outside, cars slush
past on wet gravel.  Her fingers coax his mouth open wider,
so that he might help her remember every last scrap.  Panting,

she swears she can make out the sounds of home—
roosters ruffling their feathers in their coops, street dogs baying,
and Jeepney horns blaring like women laughing in the night.


Julia Cariño is based in Norfolk, VA. She has also been published in Cha: An Asian Literary Journal. Recently, she was one of the semifinalists for the 2012 Crab Orchard Series First Book Award competition for a manuscript entitled “Cinnamon, Clove, Smoke.” She hopes to pursue an MFA in Poetry in Fall 2013. These are the things that she holds dear: poetry, film, music, dark chocolate, magnolia trees, paper-winged moths, crescendos, decrescendos, memories, synonyms, bridges, pieces of twine, dark wood, shelves, bicycles, carnivals, glaciers, silk, freshly-cut grass, pomegranates, symmetry, numbers,  and sunlight catching on unexpectedly reflective surfaces.

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