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FilipThis is the fifth in a series of five student works dedicated to interrogating creatively the concept of diaspora. For those not familiar with the Hong Kong context in which this poem takes place, it is perhaps important to highlight the significant but oftentimes undervalued role played by (largely female) migrant workers from the Philippines in Hong Kong society. The role often taken up by these workers is that of the “domestic helper” or, put another way, the “live-in maid.” This poem begins by referring to the one day a week that such workers are by law to enjoy as a break from such duties – Sunday.

“Reciting the Rosary Under the Bridge”
by Deniece Francisco (6 April, 2016)

And on the seventh day we are free, restless
To search and collect, to add on to the growing pile
Of bargain rejects (if you’re lucky)
Or China-made bric-a-brac, value pack chocolates bought from Prize Mart
For when the time is right, when the balikbayan box is full
We can ship it home.

Afternoons are for sharing in a born again group
So for now I sit rotating beads in between my fingers under the bridge
Hail Mary full of Grace the Lord is with thee blessed are thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb: Jesus.

If I scrubbed faster maybe I can go home earlier
I want to crawl inside and spread my body within the box
Until my skin merges with the golden walls
And the hairs on my arms would crawl into the sinews of the carton
Joining the hairs on top of my head – my bloodline…

Hail Mary full of Grace the Lord is with thee blessed are thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb: Jesus.

If I scrubbed harder maybe I can polish them brighter
A penitential act endured beyond the Holy Week
Mortifications of the Flesh: fasting, flagellation, crucifixion.

Some mutt barks before its owner could shush him
An old squatter who planted his paper furniture under the bridge
Who has taken up residence before urban planning
Could deposit their boxed tiger lilies
Glory be to the Father.

Kuskos kuskos kuskos, Hail Holy Queen Under the Bridge.

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