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“Ode to Lakapati”

                “Lakapati, pakanin mo yaring alipin mo; huwag mong gutumin.”
                    “Lakapati, feed thy servant; let him not hunger.”
                  — ancient supplication, once proclaimed before planting a new field,
                 to the Philippine hermaphroditic deity of fertility

dear hybrid spirit          dear dual creature          you are like me          cousin to morels          gatherer of moss
you are as rice kernel          tiny           unhusked          & you are as blue above           skyfield of constellations
where God/ess roams looking         for lost things         you too are a lost thing         forgotten like the name
of a former lover        the scent of weed-flowers        he-she snail & slug        little chimera both sure & slow
farmers    used    you            to    fool    Spanish    priests            who    thought    you    were    the    Holy    Spirit
have the people forsaken you?     have you    like me    hungered for?     longed for—yearned for?     Lakapati
hum to me in the buzz          of sunflowers on the hill         their gold chorus for a good harvest          tonight
I make atang       scant offering from a hot meal      grain liquor to appease       I fashion an altar out of stones
place  your  figure  in  its  darkest  crevice            from  there  smile            under  the  brim  of  your  straw  hat
with your sheaf          your wicker basket          your ragged skirt          your woven tapis

nights I cut myself
in two          wait to see which half
sprouts its small seeds first

Josephine ‘Ina’ Cariño’s work has appeared in such journals as New American Fiction (New Rivers Press), One (Jacar Press), and december Magazine, among others. Her poem ‘Feast’ won the inaugural 2018 Sundress Publications broadside contest. Influenced by the natural backdrop of her childhood home in the mountains of the Philippines, Ina draws on both nature imagery and folklore in her work. She currently resides in Raleigh, NC, where she is a candidate for an MFA in creative writing at North Carolina State University.

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