Miraculous Dragonfly

By Vince Gotera

Tutubi Milagrosa — a Tagalog phrase emblazoned
across this sack of jasmine rice, also in Vietnamese,
Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Lao, English, and Thai:
a concert of tongues, scripts, pictographs.

But the crudely drawn dragonfly cruising the names
seems hardly a friendly miracle: metallic globes for eyes,
skeletal legs from a giant mosquito, hairy carapace
like some gene-fused nightmare from a low-budget movie.

Abdomen shaped like a missile — a penile sting.
Not gossamer wings but helicopter blades: Cobra chopper
streaking over silky jungle mist hovers, cybernetic
killer machine poised on a stream of fire, molten metal.

No. Dragonfly out of my childhood is delicate,
a four-year-old’s handspan from wingtip to wingtip.
Almost sunset near the Rizal monument in Manila’s
Luneta Park — cicadas in full choir, singing a canticle.

A little boy in khaki shorts, a scrape on one knee,
stands still then takes a step like a tightrope walker
in line with the slender tail of a jade
and ultramarine dragonfly. The boy’s gaze,

his whole being, funneled into fingertip and thumb.
For a moment, a small universe
of utter beauty and grace in his hand, my hand —
intricate shimmer of wings, the eyes iridescent jewels.

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