Kaya Lattimore: ‘dagat’

Kaya Lattimore reading ‘dagat’

my first language is water
– dagat
                           my chin
       asin on skin with no
       wound makes no

i hear my name
for the first time:
some say verb, say
                 kaya mo ‘yan

       i sing hymns
                 say a prayer
stay out of the sun
       salt and sweat
                 guzzle tubig
tapak on echoes and ruins

mixed girl talks with
       an accent
       a rusty tongue in
                 the past tense
until malamig na
       ang silence

but the translations
       make no sense
i leave myself
pahinga muna sa hangin
walang wika
       save this slanging

every language turns to lupa
       back to langit or
       each salita
maalat sa dila
i am
       what i speak
and this dagat runs


dagat: ocean
asin: salt
kaya: to be able
kayang kaya; kakayanin: (as above, but with greater emphasis)
kinaya: past tense of kaya
kaya mo ‘yan: you can do it
tubig: water
tapak: to tread, to step on
malamig: cold
pahinga muna sa hangin: rest a bit in the breeze
walang wika: no language
lupa: earth, soil
langit: sky, heaven
kaluluwa: soul
salita: word/s
maalat sa dila: salty on the tongue

Kaya Lattimore is a Filipina-Australian writer and spoken word poet. As a mestiza and immigrant, her writing obsessions include diaspora, family histories, racial identity, and language. She writes to express, explore and reclaim all facets of her identity and lived experience. Kaya’s poetry has appeared in The Brown Orient, Cicerone Journal, be:longing, and Not Very Quiet.Read more at her blog or follow her on Facebook

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