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sarah mae dizon

mano po (blessings)

                            for my nanay

i’m seven in my plaid jumper, my short-sleeved shirt with the smooth, rounded collar

long hair thrown over my shoulder, edges rough from a pair of kitchen scissors in your careful hands


i’m a curious pair of eyes drinking in the light spilling from the crack in the door

an ear pressed against the wall and i’m searching for your voice, your breath

your face is lost to lamp light, but i catch your pale hands

covering a textbook, tracing the names of all the delicate bones in the human body


short nails, wrinkled knuckles; i’m perched on the counter with swinging legs

watching your bent fingers clean rice: turning, turning, turning


i like the scrape of grain against bowl, i like the splash of the pouring faucet

frying fish, the kitchen at dusk, the windows bleed orange on our skin

i rub my face in your scrubs when you pull me into your arms

the cotton is soft and worn down, bright and patterned


the scent of decay and antiseptic sting my nose

and i’m too young to find it anything but comforting;


my hands reach for one of yours: your palm is smooth, a web

of creases that darken as i curl my fingers into the curl of yours


i press your knuckles against my forehead

gentle pressure, a passing moment


a message spelled in metacarpals

of the words i have yet to learn


or, perhaps, may never know



“Mano or Pagmamano is a gesture used in Filipino culture performed as a sign of respect to elders and as a way of accepting a blessing from the elder. Similar to hand-kissing, the person giving the greeting bows towards the offered hand of the elder and presses his or her forehead on the elder's hand.” (Wikipedia)




Sarah Mae Dizon is a seventeen-year-old living in Virginia. She is a first-generation Filipina-American who, in between cups of coffee, likes to write a thing or two.

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