Merlinda Bobis


Lemon grass. When the river was sweet with its scent, they came for me. Half an hour after the Angelus, kang nag-aagaw su diklom buda su liwanag — when the dark was wrestling with the light, as we say — they came in a haze of the first fireflies. Tinsel on the green uniforms of the three men, bordering a sleeve here, circling a belt there, filling buttonholes, dotting an insignia, and smothering the mouth of the sergeant’s M16. He of the sullen face — young Ramon, wasn’t it? So like a dark angel with his halo of darting lights, harbinger of omens from the river. I’m sure it’s lemon grass and, putang ina, too many fireflies, he said, swatting the light on his pouting lips. That night, the roots of my hair knew this was going to be the last time, the last time, and I heard keening in my scalp.



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