A Miracle in Manila by Ai

A man could never do as much for Imelda

as a pair of shoes.

I always knew if she had to choose,

it would be pumps instead of passion.

Although her Ferdinand was handy

with his tongue and his fingers,

she preferred to linger over coffee and a stack of

magazines rather than to have him between her legs.

I could only get the flower

of the Philippines in bed,

when I was dressed in a red jock strap

and tapshoes.

Even then, she might fade

into another rambling monologue,

or nap fitfully,

until I tapdanced and sang "Feelings,"

a song I hated,

but marriage is a compromise

and many times I had to sing two choruses,

before she woke and sang along

and with the last ounce of energy,

I would take off those goddamn shoes

and do my duty as a man.

A woman like Imelda

must be wooed again and again,

because she is controlled by her moods,

which are dark and greedy

and everyday, they chew her up

and spit her out,

less a few clothes and jewels

and more of the slum she came from.

Now she's tool old to play the ingenue.

The loyal few won't admit

that she no longer matters.

They grovel at her feet,

while she holds court

in a hotel suite

otherwise she's mostly ignored

so isolated and bored with herself,

she takes to her beloved stores.

She gives away her shopping bags of evening

clothes to the poor maids,

who have no more use for them than I do,

lying in my refrigerated coffin,

Finally, she has a meeting with Mother B,

who has been crucified every

Good Friday for the past five


Between sips of diet soda and

tears, Imelda decides the time is


for her own brief sojourn on the cross,

so she goes to San Fernando with her

entourage. She wears a simple shift

designed in Paris, and handmade flats.

She even holds the special nails,

soaked in alcohol of a year,

to her nose, and inhales,

before she lets the attendants

drive them into her hands and feet,

just missing bones and blood vessels.

Only a few heartbeats and she is down,

waving to the crowd,

who shout her name,

as if she really is the president.

It's then she starts to bleed

from her palms.

Somebody screams, then they all


It seems like hours

before they rush toward her,

tearing at her clothes, her hair,

pleading for cures, for food,

for everything they've ever needed.

Only gunfire drives them back

and she flees, both horrified and pleased

that the trick worked.

Once the fake blood's washed off,

she stares at her hands,

almost wishing she really had stigmata.

She doesn't even make the news.

mean, they get her confused with

Mother B,

who seizes credit for the "miracle."

Imdelda lets it go.

She settles for self-mockery

and sings "Memories,"

while her guests dine on Kentucky Fried

Chicken, flown in by Federal Express.

When she's alone, she gets undressed

and lies down,

not even bothering to get beneath the


Next morning, they find her

drained of her blood,

but her heart's still beating

and she suddenly sits up,

repeating my name.

She says in a vision

I have her a pair of magic slippers,

that allow her to walk on water.

She's lying, but I'm past caring

and I'm done with shoes.

Anyway, she doesn't need me,

because she's got her illusions.

After a transfusion, a facial

and a manicure,

she's campaigning again,

although it's useless

and I'm back tapdancing by her side,

while she proclaims herself

the only candidate

who can rise from the dead.