Bitaug, Siquijor, Philippines

Three women dragged the spiky, bulky mass
onto a bamboo table on the side of an island

road. A raised hunting knife glinted in sunlight,
then plunged with a breathless gasp, slicing into

the unseen. To a passerby they were a curious
wall, a swarm of onlookers, barrio children

and younger women, buzzing with a rising
gleeful cadence as a mother busied herself

with the butchering. Surprisingly, a citrusy,
sugary scent sweetened the stranger’s face

when offered the yellow flesh like thickened
petals, licorice to the touch, he stood awed

at the monstrous jackfruit, bloodless armadillo
halved, quartered, sectioned off for feasting.

His tongue tingled ripely. This country’s foreign
to me
, he continued, but I’m not foreign to it.

Note to Poetry Out Loud students: This poem begins with an epigraph that must be recited. Omitting the epigraph will affect your accuracy score.
  • Source: Poetry (July/August 2017)

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