A teacher once asked if I lived on the dirty side of the Philippines, I had to think what she meant—if she meant a part easier to ignore homeless kids on the streetsides with cardboard blankets curled up like street dogs; if dirty meant poor meant eating rice with soy sauce ‘cause mama couldn’t afford meat; if poor meant illiterate meant when my dad dropped high school and did drugs instead; if illiterate meant stupid meant when his brother grew up not knowing how to read and write; if stupid meant me in that new white school barely knowing English, I felt like a weathered rock knuckled down when I pronounced a word wrong from a sheet of paper to a shit of paper—I was smoothed away to my smallest form to the point I said, “no, I do not come from the dirty side.” I carried myself upright as if I always had access to clean clothes, to clean water, to a clean life.  

Photo by CEphoto, Uwe Aranas

Micah Dela Cueva

Word Weaver Micah Dela Cueva was born in the Philippines with the ocean on her skin and mountains on her back. Her writing has a gentle nature that is often contrasted by the harsh reality of her stories. She has an MFA in Writing and Publishing at Long Island University, Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in Hunger Mountain.