I broke off from the side of a mountain,
broke off like my country did,
broke off with a rope ladder,
an empty musket and a bag half-filled with silver coins,
broke off into flakes of bush and loam and skin.
I broke off into a baptism,
head first broke into the waters,
not sure to come up again,
somehow always coming up again.
I breathed in and felt it like fire,
breathed in and coughed and cried and
came out not dead.
I fought my way into a body,
clawed past Bataan, past Siquijor,
dug my fingernails into a shipwreck,
asked a forest which way was north,
coughed up blood in the shape of islands.
I unfurled my body into a flag,
like my country did,
unfurled myself into a ship’s mast,
into the curve of letters on a cave,
into pebbles spelling out a name.
I broke off from the right side of a storm cloud,
broke and crested onto shore,
pulled up and breathed from a river tide,
breathed out to be born.
Ethan Chua is a Chinese-Filipino spoken word poet from the Philippines and a freshman at Stanford University, where he is part of the Stanford Spoken Word Collective. His work has been published in major Philippine newspapers, the Philippine Graphic magazine, Eunoia Review, and Moledro Magazine; his work is also forthcoming in Strange Horizons and Blue Marble Review.