- POETRY -

CHIMERA

 

Ina Cariño

ISSUE ELEVEN | FALL 2018

Once, you told me

I could be ugly,

when I wanted—

 

hair dismal-

damp, mournful—

mouth a dark

 

nook under 

a tree where 

creatures hide:

 

night badgers,

crickets, the bat-

eared fox.

 

You said I

could be

dreadful—

 

angry fistful

of thorns stripped

from the stems

 

of roses— 

the red and green 

flowing from 

 

the gutted belly 

of a fish—or a squirrel's 

swollen form, frozen-

 

fallen from a tree,

seething with worms

white as rice.

 

Black nights

know my name.

When you say it,

 

you hear candles

being snuffed. I want 

to be as those wisps

 

of smoke—

but to want

is not to have,

 

and what I have

is only my likeness

in the mirror.

 

So I could 

be gone if you 

wanted— 

 

the way you wash 

the day’s salt 

off your hands:

 

flesh slick

with water, turned

transparent silk.

Ina Cariño’s work has appeared in such journals as New American Fiction (New Rivers Press), One (Jacar Press), and december Magazine, among others. 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 pursuing her MFA in creative writing at North Carolina State University.

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