Moss: Volume Four is out now! Visit our online store to find the piece below, alongside work from dozens of other Northwest writers, in a beautiful print edition.

First Lady
Anis Gisele 

My aunt does not consider herself
She does not consider herself
thin or unlucky.

She is married to a man my mother never argues with
because he has money.

My uncle tells people he speaks to God. He will not tell my aunt
where their daughter came from.

He says voices from the light told him she was theirs.

Their daughter is twelve. When she hesitates before saying her father helps people, I can see now she will one day call his worksomething else.

My uncle thinks he is God’s encore,
thinks he has all the universe’s teeth,

tells my aunt what to eat and when to fast.

She says she and my uncle don’t have sex anymore.
It is what he wants: to keep the moon inside of him.

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He yells at her.She says it is fine.

I nod like I believe.

For so long, she has listened to people call him master. She thinks he is hers too.

Women from Manila quickly learn our size. We are only as big
as our country,
and our country
is small, a bed crowded
with soldiers
a wound infested
with priests.

My aunt grew up in the time of Marcos.

Women who spoke out against him were found with




Women who spoke out against him were never found.

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When my aunt was a little girl, Imelda Marcos was First Lady.
She stood by her man. All the little girls saw.

My uncle met Imelda last year.
My brother, born and raised in America, asks me
who Marcos is. I say, A dictator.
My uncle corrects me, A visionary.

My uncle and aunt slow-dance.


    floor tilts.

She does not let go.

Anis Gisele is a recipient of fellowships and awards from VONA/Voices, Everyday Feminism, 4Culture, Artist Trust, King County, Hugo House, and Jack Straw Cultural Center, among other institutions. They come from Manila, Philippines, and currently live in Seattle.

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Moss is a journal of writing from the Pacific Northwest. Published annually in print, Moss is dedicated to exploring the intersection of place and creative expression, while exposing the region’s outstanding writers to a broad audience of readers, critics, and publishers.

The piece above is now available in print as part of Moss: Volume Four. Click below to order the volume online, or find it at an independent bookstore near you.
Featuring new writing and interviews from more than two dozen Northwest writers and poets, Moss: Volume Four is available online and in stores now.
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