Dughan (Holy Places)

Kaya Lattimore was born in Hobart, raised in the Philippines, and now lives in Canberra.  As a person of mixed ethnicity, her identity has been questioned by others all her life.  Kaya writes to express, explore and ultimately reclaim all facets of her identity and lived experience.

Dughan (dūg-hahn)
Origin: Bisaya/Cebuano
n.: chest; bosom; heart

there is an ache inside my chest
deeper than an empty grave
I hear my name in other
let my tongue wrap
around them like a bandage
to un-sting the slow grazing
of this utterance
I was named for something
stronger than displacement
something alive in stories
older than this bloodline

I heard it said that kings once
ruled this place
I heard it said, my grandmother
was the last princess of her tribe
I am heir to a history written
on this skin
my face is a map that doesn’t know
how to find home
in any place but this body

there are rivers there,
feeding the oceans that line
every island
the shores live in a history
as old as the sky
let me imagine myself
part of a different kind of story
one where family is country
and country is blood
and blood is history
and history the tides
that have never known stillness
that live for the flooding
the seasons of rain

home is the place I bleed from
there are parts of my heart
that do not live inside this body
left behind in the tearing away
I have known the shock and stillness
seen the slow descent of death
the wound of an open grave
how the sun becomes a hot and heavy
thing above a family / a country / a history
all clad in white like bandages
but it does not staunch the bleeding
of goodbye,
the slow grazing of its utterance

one day this grave, too, will scar over
this earth will grow another tree and find
its place inside the hilly landscape
and the ancient rivers sing their stories
calling my name home to the shores of
this history
I am found in every ocean
its tides my only familiar ground, and this too
becomes a holy resting place
the place from which I bleed

© Kaya Lattimore, 2017