Skip to content
Moral / Economies

War Supply

by Ina Cariño

there are different ways to say
scar tissue. pariah.
there were plenty of us—
I still feel sick when I come
even when it’s my husband.
I am called blank look.

they beat us,
& often
in certain textbooks
they say the government wanted
virgins to stave off venereal disease.
they gave me a modest sum.
I walk with a limp.
could be anyone—
& I am as muddy stream.
I want
to unfurl wings in rising flock.
I still remember the day I walked
watching the reed-grass ripple,
before they caught me by the waist.

my name:
starling, wings clipped.
didn’t go by choice—
close to a man,
I am called grandmother.
shadow woman. blemished fruit,
they sometimes used condoms—
washed between men.
they say we wanted to be prostitutes,
to prevent rape in the first place.
last year I finally asked to be paid.
but I am ashamed
my child’s true father
could now be a family man.
all sullied behind a smile. o
to be an eager finch again—
flurry of flight, sister untamed.
under sun among red fern fronds,

hibiscus sticky under palms—
before I stopped being a woman.

Ina Cariño is a 2022 Whiting Award winner with an MFA in creative writing from North Carolina State University. Their poetry appears or is forthcoming in The American Poetry Review, The Margins, Guernica, Poetry Northwest, Poetry Magazine, Paris Review Daily, Waxwing, New England Review, and elsewhere. She is a Kundiman fellow and is the winner of the 2021 Alice James Award for Feast, forthcoming from Alice James Books in March 2023. In 2021, Ina was selected as one of four winners of the 92Y Discovery Poetry Contest.

Subscribe today!

One South, a world of stories. Delivered in four print issues a year.