There are things bigger than me.

Like husking the coconut
to sip its water,
hacking the shell, and scraping the meat
into strands before the third moon sets.

Perhaps your oracle eye fishes
in the shallows for the glimmer of a treasure
chest in the waters off this Palawan quarry.

Like deciding which fruits of the earth
can sell, recicada, in any weather
or can enter the tapahan
where smoke becomes copra.

No crows seem to caw
at the rim of the memory
of houses built in debt.

Like your sun-drenched face cracking open
to let laughter out. The pink flower
on your granddaughter’s cake blooms
against bales of hay piled by rice paddies.

There are things bigger than my stories,
like this island unbowed before a drought,
like the hard shell of the earth.

This poem was first published in Katitikan — Literary Journal of the Philippine South.

Jose Luis Pablo or “Nico” is a poet and a communications manager for a non-profit. Their work has been published in “Likhaan: The Journal of Contemporary Philippine Literature”, “Cordite Poetry Review” (Australia), “My Gay Eye” (Germany), “Busilak: New LGBTQ+ poetry from the Philippines” (University of the Philippines Press), “The Pinch”(USA), and elsewhere, as detailed in Nico was awarded by the Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature in 2018 and was a finalist for the 2020 Peseroff Poetry Prize. They are based in Rizal, Philippines.