Uwi

BY DANABELLE GUTIERREZ 

 

Uwi verb
to go back to your residence.

One word, meaning to return,
not just anywhere, but home.

I wonder how often the ancestors
had to leave, had to go, had to work,

had to travel on foot, had to climb down
mountains, had to walk across rice fields,

had to sail, across islands, across continents,
for miles, for years—for this word to be invented.

I was seven years old when we moved to Cairo,
I remember scribbling notes to my mother saying:

Uwi na tayo, let’s go home. My mother,
sentimental, kept the notes, I look at them

now, I wonder what home? Which one?
The rented apartment, Muscat, Dubai,

Vienna, where my mother is, or inang-bayan,
the country I am from, but barely know,

I wonder how often the ancestors
had to reassure the ones who left, said:

It is okay. Go, explore, work, adventure,
have fun. And when you’re ready, when

you are done, kahit gaano kalayo, kahit
gaano katagal, may uuwian ka. Here is home.

 

Danabelle Gutierrez is a writer, actress, and photographer. She is the author of poetry books I Long to Be the River and & Until the Dreams Come and chapbooks Eventually, The River Surrender, and Softer. Born in Las Piñas and raised in Cairo, Vienna, and Muscat, Danabelle is currently in Dubai, where she lives, loves, and writes.

[Purchase Issue 22 here.]

Uwi

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