Langit ang buhay
There’s a hole where the nail used to be and she can see through it, straight to heaven. Oh, she’s sure he’s up there, somewhere, waiting for her. She peers out the hole oh the whole time we’ve been talking you know, peering for the epiphany only we know and have been holding onto. If only we had the guts to tell her there’s no such thing: she can’t make a heaven of life! And if it’s not a gun, it’s a knife, or a lie, or the phone, or a hotel room, or a stone with a key inside it. Or he might have heaven up there with him. Or she might be his wife. Better she keep looking, press her ear eye nose throat spine elbows spleen toes through the hole and ask if she fits and keep waiting for it and we can tell her stories to pass the time.
langit ang buhay: a Filipino idiom meaning “complete happiness” (heaven of life)
Tokihiro Sato. #354 Hattachi, 1998. Archival inkjet print. © The Artist. Courtesy Leslie Tonkonow Artworks + Projects, NY.
Ivy Alvarez is the author of Disturbance (Seren, 2013) and several shorter collections, including Hollywood Starlet (Chicago: dancing girl press, 2015) and The Everyday English Dictionary (London: Paekakariki Press, 2016). Her work is widely published and anthologized, with selected poems translated into Russian, Spanish, Japanese, and Korean. Her website is www.ivyalvarez.com.
Tokihiro Sato was born in 1957 in Sakata, Yamagata Prefecture, Japan. Trained as a sculptor, he has been using photography since the late 1980s to express his ideas about light and space. In his best-known series, Photo Respiration, tiny points of light or illuminated lines record his movements through space. Using a large-format camera set on a tripod and timed for exposures that may last from one to three hours, he moves quickly through the described space. When shooting in daylight, he flashes a mirror at the sun. At night, or indoors, he uses a flashlight. The resulting photographs capture exquisitely detailed scenes punctuated by pinpoints or linear patterns of light that depict the artist’s presence but not his image. For more than thirty years, Sato has exhibited at galleries and museums throughout the world. His photographs are in the collections of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; The Art Institute of Chicago; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; The Cleveland Museum of Art; The Museum of Modern Art, Saitama, Japan; the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography; and many other important institutions.