Cristina Juan

She was beached, strange creature,
when the arc of the sun
had just lisped
over the moon-line.
She was huge, and bluish gray.
Her black plastic fins
were folded up,
to pray.
Her oil-skin was the flabbiest
that these bronze whalers
had gotten used
to cutting up.
She had a sad smile,
and they began with her jaw. Her three rows
of salt-stained teeth, and her tongue.
Her eyes were huge. They had to cup both hands
to hold just one. Foggy eyes.
(She had pretty lashes at least).
When they got to her breasts,
they were small and limp.
Green veins ran across the nipples
that had sunk so low
beneath her skin.
It was strange to see her teeth,
her eyes, then her cut-out breasts,
on the beach-line.
(No one would later ever guess
that those had once been breasts.)

When they got to her heart,
it had many rooms.
So many rooms
three men could walk across the
blue-gray floor
and open doors.
They opened and closed the doors
into many rooms,
and they were all empty.
Of course, they had to be.
Animals don’t have souls
animals, don’t have souls.

Cristina Juan was born and raised in the Philippines. She taught Comparative Literature at the University of the Philippines before meeting her husband and moving to New York 16 years ago. She has spent her recent years in the company of two friendly, but precocious, insomniacs, her dear and precious sons.