Poems by Janice Lobo Sapigao




 Body Mass Index

“BMI (body mass index), which is based on the height and weight of a person, is an inaccurate measure of body fat content and does not take into account muscle mass, bone density, overall body composition, and racial and sex differences…” – Medical News Today


My auntie sits slumped

like a pillow to a headboard

Her body———the incline of

the city’s foothills

When she leaves San José

for the Philippines I drive her

From the rearview

I see she lives sprawled across

the landscape of the backseat

My auntie is an oblique—-askew

She livesin a drop

her collarbones and neck rest

makea trench—-a dip

her head a sunset sunken

jutting in between two planes

Plateaus of discomfortandabnormal respiration


She is one long ligament

She needs three armsand one belongs to me

She needs her legs and a cane

as I escort her to the bathroom to the car

to the security line at the airportfor maybe

the last timeeverEvery person in a wheelchair

Each elder traveling alone could be my auntie

A part of this or that country

immobile with a passport

Dual citizenship is six-thousand,

nine-hundred, and seventy-two miles long

Stretched wide and bordered


I know the word

for body in Ilokano is bagi—–as in baggage—-as in heavy——–bagi

My auntie is baggy her physique too big

for this life

My auntie is a numbera want away——-a weight——-waiting    a room of herself

My auntie is short———of breath————of movement————of nation


Janice Lobo Sapigao (she/her) is a Filipina American poet from the San Francisco Bay Area. She is the author of two books of poetry, microchips for millions (Philippine American Writers and Artists, Inc., 2016) and like a solid to a shadow (Nightboat Books, 2022). She was the 2020-2021 Santa Clara County Poet Laureate.



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