Walis tingting

take a coconut palm leaf
pinnate in shape
flat with a spine

strip the green away and you’re left
with a whip which at speed
can cut skin for punishment

gather the leaves
then gather the spines
bind with weaving through

another thin thing
for sweeping concrete
sand and earth

today it is my job
to clear the threshold
dirt mixed with sweat like

worms in the fold of my elbow
blacken under nails
rime my neck

I sweep and the broom says
      sh     sh     sh
for ten minutes in a day

I say nothing
let my broom
speak for me


Filipino idiom meaning thin as a rod (literally, palm leaf broom)


Image: Vincent van Zalinge on Unsplash



Ivy Alvarez

Ivy Alvarez’s collections include The Everyday English Dictionary (Paekakariki Press), Disturbance (Seren Books), and Mortal (Red Morning Press), with Diaspora, Vol. L forthcoming in 2019. Born in the Philippines, her work is widely published, anthologised and translated. She lives in New Zealand.

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