Ever since my husband told me about bangungot
and taught me how to say it--
three short nasally syllables, a cross between
banana and coconut--I've been worried
he's going to get it, that he'll die in his sleep.
Some Filipinos believe a demon sits on a man's chest
or violent nightmares are the real killers.
My husband thinks it's too much
fish sauce or shrimp paste late at night,
that third helping of rice. Bangungot
strikes men 25-40, men who like to eat
then snooze. I try not to let my husband do this
and suggest, instead of television, a walk after dinner,
a game of cards. But sometimes I have places to go.
Sometimes I fall asleep before he does.
It's then I dream of my husband's stomach--
a pot of rice boiling over, a banana so ripe
its own skin cracks. Or I fly, just from the waist up,
a manananggal, a vampire that can only be killed
with salt, a vampire who kills men in their sleep.
The top of my body leans into my husband's chest
and I demand he teach me to pronounce the word
that doesn't look like it's spelled. He is confused,
asks me Where are your legs?
By the time I get them back,
I'm a widow in black ballerina flats.