Ryann Tanap – Poetry


Dearest identity,
I’ve seen that you’ve been running away from me

I apologize for your assumptions
To you, I’m not Filipino enough –
I don’t speak my father’s native words
and all that I know are names of food and slurs

Is it my fault that I do not know any better?

To you, I’m just fresh-out-of-the-fryer
crispy brown Lumpia – dipped in thick sweet & sour sauce

And if you want to talk in terms of Pinoy cuisine
then I’ll go away with my appetite,
I’ll just come clean:

Yes, I’m most certainly proud of my
salty, fish sauce fingertips
covered in jasmine rice and bits of
Tinik-free tilapia

I think I can mature
more deeply into my culture
I’ve danced between bamboo sticks
attempted to twist with pride
as I smile which each stride
in hopes of becoming more alive

for I anticipate something greater
I’m too impatient to wait for later

Still, I want to know more
to uncover the corruption
that has soaked into the soil of the motherland
to discover the properties of the poverty
that weaves into each community
choking society from
“developing” – by Western standards of course

For the clouds loom overhead
and though the skies may not dance in beams of
blue, white or red
and there’s an absence of illuminating bodies:
no radiant sun, no pointed stars
Instead the skies are
representative of invisible battle scars

So – while I may not know
each individual fact and flow
of my country’s history
I am ready and eager
able and willing
reveal each mystery
of my roots with reason
to learn to heal
each misconception and lesion