Oceans

Child, there is nothing to fear in darkness.
You
do not need to protect yourself
from what is unseen-
from what lurks around when night falls.
Your monsters need not be killed.
You can always drift them
into more appropriate places
where they are needed.
You are never meant to fight for space. You are
the expanse
that the land is envious of. Release yourself
and let your waves wash out mountains
of unforgiven trespasses.
The night has never stolen anything from you.
It gives
back the fire that rises from your body-
the one you willingly yield to others
so that they can live.
Let it return to your hands
so you can share it again
without any regret or resentment.

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Trinidad

I.

My life.

is firmly rooted between three distinct places:

Church, school, and home-

growing under the watchful eye of holy trinities.

The protecting pillars of my personhood

against the thief that may come at night time.

You see, I have been told that I am quite precious-

a jewel in the rough, so to speak,

hidden for a noble prince willing to climb over this orchard-

Though I don’t know if I’m the diamond or the pearl kind.

While waiting, I fill my interiors with books, trinkets, and decora-

souvenirs from places I have never been

dropped by polite visitors who stop to smell the flowers

My hands always let things bloom- hoping that one of them would be lured

to brave the forbidden

and dig this land.

 

I have long been buried here.

 

They always get distracted though-

already satisfied by a single flower, or an interesting artifact

when the garden is quite vast.

There seems always room for more- I have never explored it entirely.

Have never even measured the limits of myself

as I stretch and crumble the walls from within.

My eyes are buds, so I let my vines do all the groping

to reach the sunlight.

 

II.

What I know upon receiving sight:

I do not have a mother.

I was born from a sea foam.

From a plane crash. From the jagged propellers of a kamikaze jet plane.

Scorched by the sun for attempting to fly high,

I was casted to drown at the coldest depths. To remain restless

for refusing the fixated earth.

I’d like to say that the sky and sea are my parents,

But though I may seem like their prisoner, they have adopted me whole

Hardening my wounds with salt and spray

until I have finally submerged and become.

I can always rise and break structures down. This is my form of play.

Now I am storm. I am the monsoon.

I am the wave that catches the lightning, the cloud that broods over ships-

reading people’s lives as drifting leaves on a teacup. Eager to see how things

would unfold. If I stir,

Sailors mistake my passion for rage, my laughter for thunderclaps.

They appease me by throwing everything at my feet

Just for them to live. But I have no need of drowning men

Nor of their fancy baggage. All I want is for someone

to survive my tempests.

 

III.

The truth is, I am too old to be a child.

Yet I am a part of myself that remains here in the womb– an overdue embryo

making picture books out of a monochrome crayon pack.

 

Waiting to be born.

Wanting to be cradled. To be called by my real name.

To be here.

 

Just how can I give birth to myself?

My sisters have long been rubbing me to come out. It’s easy, they say.

You just have to break in. Push open the glass doors with a smooth swoosh.

See, everything is ready. Everybody is here.

The cake is sliced, candles are lit. The guests are now giggling in the dark

and your body floats ripe in a tub of cold water

All you need to do is to cut the fucking ribbon.

 

But my hands are jelly.

 

I do not know how to hold the blade with my fists

Less caesarian my way out of my body

What if I’m the one who needs to be broken?

So that I won’t be stuck here

 

Weaving worlds out of empty words to fill in the void of not knowing

Swimming in a dark finite ocean

Already content with the stories whispered into my ear

 

IV.

Three things I could still remember:

  1. Water breaking
  2. Waking up from a warm dream
  3. Welcome home

 

 

Grafting

Here, a piece of flesh.

I offer you a part of my skin, a patchwork of muscles and sinews, bared open to you like a live wire. Trace the green and purple cobwebs oozing with spurts of red. Watch how a tiny spider crawls its way in, weave itself a home, and be choked with its own trappings. This is my body

Which unravels before your eyes, and I break it for you whilst lisping a short prayer that you would not draw back.

No. I’m not asking you to heal me. Your hands are as cold as mine. Your sores blooming its way out underneath those layers of worn clothing you call skin. It calls out to me, latching on my fragile nerves, while I suck and drain both its poison and its blood.

We cannot make balms out of open wounds. I know, because I’ve tried.

Instead, let our skins be garments of each other. Let it weave a gauze on its own- a third skin that would hopefully wrap the scabs that we repeatedly scratch open. For the time being, lend yourself in mine, as I let the rough parts of myself patch your tender ones.

And when the time of leaving comes, when daybreak pierces through what we have made inseparable, let us peel ourselves away from each other- not out of repulse since we’ve already seen the repulsiveness of one another- but out of respect.

As beings who have been under the same skin.

Advice to Daughters

For the longest time, we are forced to play
the role of a mad woman– the woman in the attic,
the deranged lover, the desperate mother looking for her lost children,
the loveless nymphomaniac,
or else, the crazy cat lady– only because we have found ourselves
to be too intense, too carnal, too strong
to be contained, that we choose to be let loose
into a cage of this character sketch.

But wild one, we have stayed in this space for far too long–
finding solace in each other’s complexities and wickedness
that we forget that there are other acts, other parts,
and other stages waiting to be created and be played. Leave
and make yourself tender again
just as you have entered bravely
despite cold feet and countless rejections.

A Bedtime Story

My parent’s warning: Never wear your crown because it shines too bright.
If you desire to be rescued by princes, you have to be a pure-hearted girl
Who sings good songs and asks safe questions.
Leaving her empire behind, she rides on his steed
Swallowing the rest of her senses behind her coy smile
(She can puke it out later, when they live happily ever after).

I’m sorry, mother.
I’ve tried my best to be nice. I’ve been a good little girl,
But what do I get with being cute? A man’s knee pressed to my leg.
Uninvited.
His thighs a spread canopy at the bottom of the dinner table,
Asserting the space that he thinks is his.
Pushing me at the edges.
For supper, he serves morsels of moral convictions with his mouth,
And leaning to me closer, he breathes,
“You should come with me to church.”

I am already tired of the kisses people steal in the dark
When their mouths speak of chastity in the morning.
“No, I never intend to have sex with you,”
But his fingers spider its way at the hem of my skirt.
We’ve never been chaste
Yet we show up at masses every Sunday,
Waiting for the rites to end
For the lights to turn off again
So that we can attend to what’s already burning.

Lover, you should already know that
my tongue is a fire that cannot be quenched
by any distilled sparkling water you drink everyday.
It’s too late now. You cannot rescue me.                                                                                         It demands. It hungers.
And it speaks of your undoing. Saying,
“White Knight, here’s what I want: I want to see you fully at your unmasking.”
Turn on the lights. I am not blinded nor scared by your sharp edges,
Your jagged pieces, your naked self that is stripped of armor and defenses.
I am not anymore a little girl who faints at the sight of blood.
I have been torched through many stakes.
My heart, already a live coal which no man can put out.

If you really want me, you have to take part in the burning.
Else, you remain in the shadows and become
the very monster you fear under your bed.

Narcissus

Narcissus

Maybe we have different truths. Maybe your truth is different from mine, but that doesn’t make any of us less of what we are.

I have loved you in the way that I have loved. And in my mind, I know you did the same. We have loved each other in the ways we know how- that’s a truth I believe in.

but love– ah, what a big word it is. We’ve waded our way into it, still never knowing how slippery or deep it could be. Our hands are frantic in search for the other as we try to concretize its vagueness.

I see a clear image of you at the other side of the mirror, but our skins never touch- that’s a truth I have accepted.

I envy the weeds that wrap themselves around your feet. They cling onto you, like a blanket that keeps you warm at night. Meanwhile, the same thing continues to grow at my side of the riverbank. I feel it scratching my skin, slowly twining its life around my existence. Maybe this is the truth we should attend to.

You close your eyes now- and I hear your heart growing faint. I should do the same. In time, we’ll become something more real. But still in different realities.

When I Was 18: Double Coating

I’m your plain white wallpaper covering

Your gray slab of a wall. Is it not enough

For me to wrap you in my protective

Embrace that you decide to splash me

With pints of hot pink? No, I’d rather not

Complain about your insensitivities. I should

Know better. A plain white wallpaper like me

Who has no other color or texture still deserves to be

Treated the same. I wish that

The concrete walls aren’t as cold and as unfriendly.

Compared with you who tells me that

I am suited here.