Hybrid: “What is the Name of Your Survival?” by Ina Cariño

This visual poem comprises of black and white boxes throughout the page, to convey deeper meanings and tones. Each number moves back and forth on the page. 

1. White background that reads: "they say a woman without shadow will soon die." Black background, text upside down: "try not to trample on a woman's shadow." 

2. White background to the bottom right of the previous stanza: "when a woman loses her name, her dog will howl." Black background: "burn sweets for the dead to appease her soul." 

3. White background: "when a woman loses her shadow, swathe mirrors" followed by in black background, upside down text: "with thick cloth, lest she trap you behind glass." 

4. White background: "feed the dead. on a worthy plate, parcel out rice," followed by black background: "braised animal, for fullness in the afterlife." 

5. White background reads the title line: "What is the name of your survival? mine is:" followed by black background: "mama's jagged teeth. papa's coarse mane." 

6. Sole line in black background: "look at the moles on my cheeks." 

7. White background: "there are different ways to say my name: scar tissue" followed by black background: "starling, custard apple blemished in summer heat." 

8. White background: "they remember me to the chants on my lips. to unsung" followed by black background, upside down text: "wounds on my fingers — little prick on my dead" 

9. Black background in upside down text: "grandmother's needle as I darn my socks, knife nick" followed by three lines in white background: "chopping jade chives on the block. they remember me / to my one good body, stirring nightly to the whispers / of my foremothers — those women whose peasant stews" 

10. Black background: "simmered bitter & fragrant in red clay pots, whose / puffed silk sleeves glimmered as they swept the stoop." 

11. Black background: "(to keep phantom footsteps from drumming through / the house, they bury the body without shoes.)" 

12. White background: "I am called bata, diwata. child untamed. / body as vetiver altar, in which my kin nest / in scent of sweetsop, waft of wild jasmine. / around me my cousins guard the fire. /  make atang on top of the highest shelf — / food offering for elders past, a meal at dusk." 

13. Black background: "I was harbored by Spanish moss, like the unetched" followed by upside down text in black background: "gravestone of my missing grandfather." followed by in white background: "I am with clan, the kith of my rituals, each day // sitting in magnolia outside my window (my uncle's

14. White background: Lines are intertwined with the previous column: "I whistle a little, croon at the white dove // ghost), until my knuckles melt into softness." followed by text in black background: "once, during a birthday feast, when he was still alive," 

15. Black background, in upside down text: "my tito froze mid-speech & spoke in the voice / of his deceased wife. she told us to keep our names" followed by, in upright text: "in our thimbles, to later stitch them to our tongues. / see my mouth, flagrant?" 

16. Black background: "my name is my survival." 

17. White background: "is dreamlike din, is laughter," 

18. White background: "only brighter [caesura] higher." 

19. in a box in the middle of the line: "free." 

20. White background: "I watch a tree grow." 

21. Black background: "watch the arc of the moon." 

22. White background: "& my name is a quiet place, face familiar" 

23. White background: "in soft light. I feel the warmth of my body at dawn — / wait for the moment when, finally, I arrive / at the beginning, at the end." 

24. Black background: "a place I call home."

About Ina Cariño

Ina Cariño holds an MFA in creative writing from North Carolina State University. Their poetry appears or is forthcoming in Guernica, Poetry Northwest, Poetry Magazine, The Paris Review Daily, Waxwing, New England Review, and elsewhere. Ina is a Kundiman fellow and a recipient of a fellowship from the Vermont Studio Center. They are the winner of the 2021 Alice James Award for Feast, forthcoming from Alice James Books in March 2023. Ina was also selected as one of four winners of the 2021 92Y Discovery Poetry Contest. In 2019, Ina founded a reading series, Indigena Collective, centering marginalized creatives in the community.