I pull you towards me, an orbit of us, a collision inevitable perhaps. Something willed into being, I sang about it in the morning, like wish fulfilment, staring out at trees exchanging coins, gold for green, a thrown-down treasure at my feet. Someone’s collecting the seeds, fruits fleshy. Skin on skin, we imagine silk, a slickening, a silvering, a ravishment on a bed not my own, a bright room or a darkening day, shadow-born, looming. Perhaps we’ll get lucky. But doubt doubts destiny. I strum the notes faster and faster, higher and higher, until breath is a rumour, the only fairy-tale I care about.

* Filipino idiom meaning ’employed foul means to make one pass the examination’; literally, ‘pulled’.

Gawin ang isdâ*

Ready your mosquito forceps, your knives and basins, your chopping board and utility trays. Bring in your milkfish, the creamy-fleshed bangús. Scale or not, as you wish, my love. Remove the nuisance bones, the anal fin. Its dorsal side will need to be split, by knife, flat, tail to head, cut along the backbone. Now a butterfly, opened out. Gut it of gills, innards skinsidedown. Backbone gone. Perhaps your tray is silver. Doesn’t matter. Make it shallow. Take forceps to the pins, the rib bones recalcitrant as ever, spines on the vertical side, filamentous bone Ys along a lateral line. Another knife to slit the dent of dorsal muscle to the end. Excess blood. Swill with chilled brine and no small ceremony. It is ready. You are so much younger now. The clay pot stove is there to be lit with your bundle of sticks, my darling, your matches and paper. The river rushes below and your hands are too small for this task, but still I love you for trying. Adore the smoke already wispy in air, though you don’t know it.

* Filipino idiom meaning ‘prepare the fish for cooking’; literally, ‘make the fish’.

Tiklóp tuhod*

Before God, to talk to Him. Before children, to ask them questions. Before cats, to pet them, and coax them, and touch their fur. Before lost items, like buttons or shoes. Before a view, to see better. As part of a ritual, to please someone. As part of a dance, as part of a ritual. To receive a blessing. To please someone. To pick up the pieces of something broken. To give pleasure. I have knelt. Briefly. With longing. With distaste. With curiousity. With pleasure. With love. To heal something broken. To clean. To wash away the sin. To find all the lost things. To be wholly seen. Be blessed. Consecrated. Holy. Even briefly.

* Filipino idiom meaning ‘humble’; literally, ‘bended knee’

Ivy Alvarez’s collections include Diaspora: Volume L (Paloma Press), The Everyday English Dictionary (Paekakariki Press), and Disturbance (Seren). Born in the Philippines and raised in Australia, she now lives in Auckland, New Zealand. www.ivyalvarez.com