INSTINCTS #8: ‘The Manananggal, On A First Date’ by Celestine Trinidad

Hey everyone, hope your weekend is going great!

Today’s poem is from Celestine Trinidad, a regular Insignia Stories contributor who writes really fun Filipino myth-based fantasy. Her story ‘Horse Feet’ in our Southeast Asian Fantasy anthology is one of my favorites!

Celestine also has stories featured in our upcoming Southeast Asian Fantasy Drabbles and Insignia 2020: Best Asian Speculative Fiction anthologies.

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The Manananggal, On A First Date

Celestine Trinidad

 

They never see it coming.

In the daylight,

While the sun illuminates my face,

White teeth sparkling

in a perfect smile

Two feet standing firm on the ground

I am whole,

Unbroken.

They think me beautiful.

 

But they do not know

That when all light vanishes

The darkness swallows me, and then—

I am no longer whole.

My legs fall, useless, to the ground

I am all arms and torso

Teeth lengthen, grow yellow

Tongue needle-sharp

Wings sprout from my back,

tear through flesh—

It hurts every time.

 

I hide away, each time I transform.

Once I made the mistake

of being careless

He said his love was eternal, unchanging

But he ran screaming

Feet slipping, fingers clawing

Calling on the God he never believed in until then

When he caught a glimpse of me in the dark.

He said I was not who he thought I was—

I was halved,

Broken.

He did not want someone who was broken.

 

I have been to many healers,

Wizened old men, witches, doctors

Heard incantations, spells,

Offered potions, prayers

Each night, it was the same.

Until one day, on the street,

This woman turned to me,

a twinkle in her eye, as she whispered,

“Well, why don’t you just fly?”

 

So I did.

 

When night came,

I lifted my eyes up to the stars

and flew up to touch them.

 

So no, there is no cure

No cure for what I am.

Here, in the daylight,

While the sun illuminates my face,

White teeth sparkling

in a perfect smile

Two feet standing firm on the ground

I am whole,

Unbroken.

You think me beautiful.

But when all light vanishes

The darkness will swallow me

My legs will fall, useless, to the ground

Teeth will lengthen, grow yellow

Tongue needle-sharp

Wings will sprout from my back,

tearing through flesh—

And I will not hide that from you.

Because even

Halved,

Broken,

I am still beautiful.

And I can fly you up to the stars.

 

Will you be okay with that?

~~~

Celestine Trinidad is a licensed physician (particularly, a pathologist) based in the Philippines. In her spare time, she writes speculative fiction and children’s short stories. Some of her other stories have been published in other print and online venues, such as The Digest of Philippine Genre Stories, Alternative Alamat, and the Southeast Asian Fantasy volume of Insignia.

Website:http://bit.ly/celestinetrinidad

Blog: http://luckychan.dreamwidth.org

Twitter: http://twitter.com/luckychan

~~~

UPCOMING RELEASES:

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Insignia 2020: Best Asian Speculative Fiction

Featuring Celestine’s YA story, ‘Shadows’

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Insignia Drabbles Vol.2.: Southeast Asian Fantasy Drabbles

Featuring Celestine’s drabble ‘Sole Witness’

~~~

Submissions to INSTINCTS are always open! We’d love to feature your Asian fantasy or scifi poetry here.

Details on how to submit can be found on our Submissions (Poetry) Page.

~~~

*Featured Image: Lon Christensen on Unsplash

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