Amaterasu, the Sun Goddess’s Complaint
To be sacred: Such a hard life, boring, even.
How I wish I could show everyone my love!
Yet should I get too close, they
will be burnt to a crisp.
But were I to keep my distance? She
Is cold, they will say, and not a
woman of exceptional warmth.
So here I am, near and far enough,
kept by these priests at this
shrine in the middle of nowhere,
Men, who make money off a woman,
no shame, drinking hard and raising
Hell with that no-good brother of mine.
I could rise from this room and
Blind them all with my glory,
one touch from my hand:
Those men will be gone!
But the mother in me resists.
How can I kill my sons
And daughters? Even
the Sun Goddess must heed
the one deity more powerful
Even than she: Fate.
New Year’s Day, Ise Shrine, Japan
odd avenues begin near
nowhere and lead to summer.
the pools are nearly full, where
water doesn’t crowd or air murder
mothers here talk of their once
beauty, their once now sad anything,
look for amor but settle for the
armor of sunburnt flesh, keeping kids
at arm’s length out of harm’s way
at the edge of metal in their hair
they sit, splash, tired of neon, of
their own intensity
still they fight, bold with
their smiles, keeping faith,
not in their imperial men
ogling some any daughter
of suburban realms,
but in the strength of their
cracked but unbroken hearts.
Luis H. Francia’s poetry books include Tattered Boat, The Beauty of Ghosts, and Museum of Absences. He is a Palanca Prize winner in poetry, the Philippines’ most prestigious literary awards body. A new collection, Thorn Grass, will be published by the University of the Philippines Press this year. His memoir, Eye of the Fish: A Personal Archipelago won both the 2002 New York’s PEN Open Book and the Asian American Writers literary awards. In 2016, his RE: Reviews, Recollections, Reflections (2015), was awarded Manila’s National Book Award for Best Essays in English. He is included in the Library of America’s Becoming Americans: Four Centuries of Immigrant Writing.