It Feels Good to Cook Rice

Ina Cariño

it feels good to cook rice

it feels heavy to cook rice

it feels familiar


       & heavy                      to cook rice

                          when I cook rice

                  it is because hunger is not just

                             an emptiness

but a longing                                          for multo:

                                   the dead who no longer linger

                  two fingers in water

                  I know just when to stop:

                  right under the second knuckle

in the morning          chew it

                                                        with salted egg

in the evening          chew it

                                                        with salted onion

at midnight          eat it


                with your peppered hands           licking

relishing                         each cloudmorsel

                                                      sucking greedy   as if

                there will no longer be any such thing

as rice


                is not the idea of pleasure


                                               it is the way

                                                         I once tripped

                                          spilled a basket

                of hulls & stones onto soil —

                homely sprinkle of husks

                as if for a sending off —

                                how right it was: palms

                                brushing the chalk of it

                                swirls rising in streaking sun


                is not the same as burden

                                            rather it is falling rice

                                                  as ghostly footfalls —

                                            trickling mounds

                                                          scattered on wood —

                my dead lolo in compression socks

                my dead lola in red slippers scuffing

                & a slew of yesterday’s titos & titas

                                their voices traveling to me

                                tinny                                ringing

                                 as if from yesterday’s nova

familiar just

                what it sounds like







calcified memories

                                of things that feel good

                                                                & heavy


                                as in made stronger by mountain sun

                only to have them crumble

                                after enough time has passed

                (just like the mountain forgot what it used to be)


it feels good to cook rice

it feels good to eat rice    even by myself

& it feels familiar to know

               with each grain I swallow

I strap myself to my own




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