The Island Witch

Dressed in dingy orchid and vine patterned dresses that swing in the breeze like dust-caked window curtains, her hair like oiled rope over sour-creased skin and bitter snap gaze, the Island Witch travels with hands touching spirits and songs foretelling doom.

I am at the jeepney waiting shed. A Filipino boy stands next to me, and we both see the Island Witch approaching with candles in her pockets and flowers in her arms. She calls to me, “You are not Filipino, go back the America” and spits on the rough ground. To the young boy she tells him, “I know your father. He is a drinker down in Sta. Cruz. He beats your mother.” Then she continues down the road. The boy, wide-eyed, reveals to me that he has never before seen the Island Witch, and wonders how she had known this about him.

Sometimes I see her spitting and fighting with local men and woman, throwing shoes or stones. Other times I see her sitting beside a tree, singing songs and laying down flowers for the dead, talking to her unseen friends, lost as if she were living in a perpetually disarrayed dream.

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