the TV is on. your father on the other end is laughing his cold laugh.
it’s an ungodly hour past curfew, his hounds are howling into the night,
their echoes ricochet like bullet wounds on every street corner.
and when they talk about you, they mean your body. your skin.
soft-cheeked currency to get through their checkpoints, an eye for an eye.
they say it’s only fair to give them this if it means you’ll get to live past tonight.
patience, my dear. this gurgling rage is all we have left.
whatever bone-pale, razor-tongued creature you will see in the mirror,
let her simmer until you, too, find that you can turn real trespassers into stone.
they will catch your gaze and expect to find submission,
bashfulness resting somewhere underneath your lashes,
but hope just doesn’t glimmer like that in neighborhoods like these.
yours are eyes that have seen too much, known too much,
you hungry blade. and this isn’t the hunger of the dogs,
of gnashing teeth and of claws sinking in, to be afraid of.
this is a hunger passed down to every daughter, a hunger born of a million misgivings
nested in your body and in hers, in your temple and in hers.
in your cage and in hers.
the TV is still on. your father’s chagrin-shaped voice reaches
the far end of the room where you will be sitting, limbs trembling,
but this time you will be able to look him and his hounds dead in the eye.
Cate Roque is a writer and safe spaces advocate from Quezon City, Philippines. She studied psychology and creative writing in the Ateneo de Manila University. Her poetry has appeared on Heights, and Sagisag by Love, Girls. In 2022, she received the Loyola Schools Awards for the Arts in Creative Writing for her poetry collection Tulala.