Recorded as part of the Poem-a-Day series, December 22, 2014
About this Poem 

“What to say when someone asks where home is? Especially when ‘home’ for you can mean the Philippines—somewhere you haven’t lived? When you were born a hemisphere away, but have inherited its faiths and myths, its capacity for awe? You give yourself permission to feel at home in your blood; you try to invent a new language for your answer.”
R. A. Villanueva


Not vinegar. Not acid. Not
sugarcane pressed to mortar by
fist, but salt: salt, the home taste; salt,
the tide; salt, the blood. Not Holy

Ghost, but a saint of coral come
to life in the night crossing a
field of brambles and thorns, the camps
of pirates beat back to the bay

with hornets. Not Santo Niño.
And not a belt of storms, but this:
girls singing, an avocado
in each open palm, courting doves;

a moth drawn to the light of our
room you take to be your father.

Copyright © 2014 by R. A. Villanueva. Used with permission of the author.

Copyright © 2014 by R. A. Villanueva. Used with permission of the author.

R. A. Villanueva

R. A. Villanueva

R. A. Villanueva is the author of Reliquaria (University of Nebraska Press, 2014).

by this poet

           For X.

From the shallows our son watches me play 
dead. He sits on river rocks chucking sand, 
burying strawberries while I float down-
stream, breath wound bright in the gut, a body

both here and of other waters. The day
he was born, midwives touched your face, your hands, 
tested nerve

At the columbarium dug
by hand, a man points to where rock
doves would be brought to nest, their eggs

tended by priests, and the cave locked
at sundown, guarded by hired
knives. The flock meant meat for the dry

times; saltpeter; yolks needed to bind
portraits to walls, to raise