Dina Klarisse (she/her) is a writer, poet, editor, and serial procrastinator based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Poetry is her way of making sense of her experience as a queer Filipina American immigrant and recovering Catholic, as well as her interest in the intersections of history, language, culture, and identity. Her work has been published in ASU’s Canyon Voices, The Daily Drunk Mag, Chopsticks Alley, and Kalopsia Literary Journal, among others. She serves as Poetry & Issue Editor for the online literary magazine Marías at Sampaguitas, as well as Editorial Director for the indie micropress, Sampaguita Press. Her debut chapbook, Handspun Rosaries, is coming out in Summer 2022.
Poem on Belonging
sings the chorus
at the very edge of security check,
as close as can be to their travelers.
Mothers and children and co-nurses
wiping tears as a loved one slips away
across the glass barrier to another place.
my mother tells me, Take care,
since I was old enough to listen.
And in the white-hot rage of youth I shook it off,
for to take care meant to take what was handed
and given and forced onto me from my first breath:
A forever tether to the voice and arms that held me,
from which I tried to run in search of freedom.
And it was my first act of independence
to forget their ingat and live outside
the safety and restrictions,
brimming over with expectations
of who I should be and should have been.
And in running and hiding I forgot to check
the corners of ingat, wherein hides love and safety:
A calling to travelers that their home is still home,
despite the neon lights of that world out there.
My eyes grew weary of the neon lights and I turned
back to that place that still echoes their calls.
I didn’t seem to notice that I am an object in orbit,
still tethered but now distanced from what is always
and has always been home.
And like a roundtrip ticket I grasp to gravity,
the pull that keeps me in their sight, still far
but close enough to hear.
I find myself saying it back, calling out
to the chorus at the center of it all.
Ingat, I sing in harmony, to my mother and father
and brothers and cousins and aunties and uncles:
The concentric circles tethered
by a prayer or mantra or shout to the void
to take care, and to come back one day.
Copyright © 2021 by Dina Klarisse. This poem originally appeared in Marías at Sampaguitas Magazine Issue No. 2. Used with permission of the author.