How do you enter that Manila
frame of mind, that woven
mat of noodle house restaurants,
that dawn of tapis tasting women,
that hankering of hourly hauntings?
Drive along Roxas Boulevard
when the moon has just clocked
out of third shift and the sea horses
are returning to their feeding stables.
Walk the afternoon trees of Taft Avenue
and talk to the mechanics of Sunday
medicine. Ask them for recipes
to cure fire-retardant love. Bask
in the baying of mahogany dogs on Mabini
street and pass through the red
wrought iron gates of Calle Remedios
where you’ll find a house with capis windows
where Doña Inez waits to sew your skin.