Fresh Friday: Bitoon

Before the word “trauma” was taken from the Greeks
By the English and brought to
Luzon and Bisayan shores
via American false promises of salvation
My people knew it already
In the stories of creation
I knew it already
In the rhythm of my family’s name

When I listen to these social workers
and doctors and psychiatrists
Speak on their theories of wounding
I sense they cannot begin to imagine
The layers of what being called “Estrella” means.
This colonizing Spanish word,
with my English-Canadian tongue,
I tell people it is the Bikol Bitoon (BEE-TOE-OHN)
with a hard-headed snap
“I am Lukayo Bitoon– it means Trickster Star”.

But what it means is more than just a “star”
What it means is light and heat, loss and rage,
So much emptiness in vast spaces
So much grief in mistakes that can never be undone
So much power and grace reaching through time
What it means is trauma
And so much more than trauma

Bitoon was the youngest grandchild of Languit and Tubigan
Torn asunder into millions upon millions
Of glittering fragments
Torn asunder from misplaced rage,
From a betrayal she had never been a part of
To know Bitoon, to even see a fraction of her,
Above us, shining through what seems like impossible distances,
Is to know trauma and what happens after

Astrology and astronomy have become my love languages
My prayers to my oldest ancestors
My conversations with Bitoon as I lay my head on her lap
The constellation of her hair twinkling around me
Where skeptics see scams and scientists see expanding points
Where warmongers see resources to weaponize
And fortunetellers see portents to monetize

I see my family
And she does not tell me all wounds will heal perfectly
She does not tell me that which is broken apart can
come back together in the end
(She is infinitely growing after all)
She simply exists as a testament to what she has become
And is becoming
As she holds all my pain and joys in the glow of her light

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