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  You could have a big dipper   

Can I Invite Her Over for Dinner? by Rigel Portales

When the ingredients are wet

without meaning to, you know

they’re going bad. The pumpkins

which only I can cook and the

kangkong my lola has final say over,

are opened to be thrown away.

How with one glance she knows

And I, who fumbles with the rotting

squash, am a little boy by comparison.

How will I ever tell her with the same hands—

soft like the mess of rice after she

teaches me again—that I am in love

and that I am the stove, the meals

being stirred under transformation?

Here is your grandson, the wok grease,

the pan bottom beneath her spatula,

my eyes in oily splendor while she fries the fish.

Will you laugh with me? I have cooked

for the gentleness of your tongue over the years

so recognize my heaving in the kitchen

heat in labor for your belly. Will my life

by the sharpness of your kitchen whittle

a smile from you? Kain na. Here are the

amber glass plates which you have washed

quietly over the years, which I have

broken once in negligence, and which are ours.

I am in love now and will you let me cook

for the both of you and could you pass her our water jug

so she could drink from our cup?


Rigel Portales is a self-taught Filipino poet afraid of disappearing. Fortunately, his works have appeared on the Oyster River Pages, Ghost City Review, and on his Twitter account @rijwrites where he writes to preserve and preserves to write. His biggest inspirations are his impenetrable sister and his beautiful parents.

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