Ensign

Your wife. Misty eyes, she looked at me and asked about souls. I was stunned.

A band of cars and trucks sped past and sadistically mutilated the already mangled city. I watched them as I navigated the network of my reasoning. I bent down, picked, and exhumed the old superstitions I have learned in childhood.

“They say we still have them for 49 days after the internment. Then they depart, forever.”

She lifted the back of her right hand and brushed her eyes. “So he is still with us?”

I looked at the longing on her face. “He is still with you.”

I’m so sorry I lied that day.

When people die they do not truly disappear. Instead, their absence grows robust and demanding day by day. We see them — in the half-eaten plates, in every homecooked meal, in the empty chairs across us at the dinner table.

They are the cold, uninhabited side of the bed all year round. They are the white noise in the radio; the static one at the back of the telly. The loss proliferates and the longing magnifies. Their absence is an excavation in our lives and it hurts everywhere.

When she asked me about souls, this was what I had in mind but I held it back. I do not have the heart to break her further that day so I told her about the superstitions I do not believe in.

“His ears will be on the swells of your breasts and with each heartbeat, he’ll be proud to know that you keep your ground and fight life back,” I assured her.

She pressed her head on my shoulder and willed a smile. I watched a lock of her hair as it fell, slowly, on the sides of my arm.

Your wife. She proudly carries her scars and lets them flap in the wind like a banner of victory.

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Penny for your thoughts

It’s a bit dim but there is a beautiful memory deeply lodged in the indented piazza of my childhood recollection.

Like all the other kids, I have godmothers and godfathers. One of them, my godmother, is a couturier. This explains why my clothes back in the 90s were specifically tailored for me. Her husband, on the other hand, is a photographer.
 
My mom normally commissioned their services each time there was an event in town wherein I was invited to participate.
 
One time, my mother left me in their house. I don’t remember much about that day but I do remember a long, tenebrous corridor lined with stuffed animals.
 
By stuffed animals, I don’t mean toys made of fabric and cotton. I mean actual animals, dead and preserved and striking in their haunting beauty.
 
The trick there, I noticed, was the chip of glass planted inside their eyes. This was what made all of them flare with life.
 
At the foot of the stair, there stood two white wolves. Their mouths were half-opened; the crinkles on their snout boasted its prominence. They looked as if they were about to jump and slaughter their prey.
 
At the top of it was a cat, curled and sleeping. Except the cat was stuffed, like the wolves so it was not sleeping but dead. There was an owl tethered from the ceiling, there were rabbits and guinea pigs and other species of birds and dogs, and they all inhabited that long, tenebrous corridor.
 
I do not remember if there was a window at the end of it, but I remember walking in that musty hallway, lined with dead, stuff creatures and feeling not a nip of fear but a burning fascination. I remember the creaks of the wooden floor and the echoes of my footfalls.
 
I was five years old, and at that tender age, I have discovered my love for everything that is strange and remarkable.

Southern Roommate

I think the best relationship I had with someone is the one I shared with my last roommate. It’s almost non-existent.

So, we inhabited the room for more than 9 months — but we never talked to each other. We never asked each others’ names. We never asked how our days were, the progress or backlash in our acads and work.
 
We never dined together, maybe noticed the slight changes — haircut, slump shoulders — but never said anything about it. We never offered compliments, and we never offered comfort. We never talked, we never listened. We treated each other invisibly, but not in a cold, harsh way.
 
She occupied the bed near the door; I, the one near the window. Her desk was filled with make-ups and soaps and lotion, all items meticulously arranged and organized. Mine, well, you can imagine the chaos — piles of readings and books, crumpled scratch papers, a pinwheel, old pens, acrylic, brushes, pallette etc.
 
Her bed was always made, her bedsheet smoothed out, her blanket folded. Mine, not so. Maybe I managed to make it twice in a year but that was the best I got.
 
She would leave in the morning, and she wouldn’t bother to wake me up. I would arrive in the evening and find the lights off, and I wouldn’t bother to turn it on. I would just quietly gather my readings and laptop so as not to wake her up, and I would head to the second floor and read and work till the dead hours of the night. I would return to our room at 5 AM to sleep. She would begin her day a few minutes after.
 
We silently recognized each others’ needs and preferences, and we never tried to invade or alter anything.
 
The kind of association that we had (if any) may sound alienating to a normal person but it was actually comforting, and possess tranquility in its own right. The way we never attempted to breach the rims of our privacy, the way we never cross each others’ existence despite our close proximity in a very intimate space — bedroom. We only shared geniality, and that was all.
 
So there we were, in one room. Her with her cellphone; I with my books. We never talked, never even asked each others’ name in the course of our time. There were no expectations between us. There were no disappointments either.

Tales of Anielou

It’s funny, somehow, the things I learnt about you.

A month ago, I was gravely disappointed at how you have insulted the realm of reason. I have expected more from you but I guess you are not mentally — let alone psychologically — capable of identifying and resisting the superficial belongingness stemming from false acquaintances.

You are just like them, a failure and a parasite who find comfort in justifying your own incompetence.

Last week I met her, your former colleague, and she told me what you did. You go to the office at 11, take your lunch at 12, she said. And you never return until past 4 in the afternoon. You failed to see the gravity of your every act, and your cognitive faculty is too dull to process the magnitude of your negligence.

You said I am the unsympathetic one but you have been wrong all along. Of the two of us I was — and I am — the sympathetic person and I understand things and people and you don’t. But you pretend to do so — the same way that you pretend to be on time and never late when your bosses are around.

Worse, you could not bring yourself to care — you self-absorbed parasite who cannot move past the remains of your lover who has deserted you long ago.

You harboured anger towards those you should have given your solicitude, all the while deluding yourself that you are capable of love you are not. You have successfully devalued the complexity of that experience and wielded it as a shield for your cheap ego.

I could elaborate all the defense mechanisms you have employed — denial, regression, sublimation, displacement — but it will only defeat its designated purpose. You have already unveiled yourself and exposed your own pretense and incompetency and above all, absence of honor.

You have done damages that your tiny mind will not be able to grasp. You’ve delivered a razor-sharp pain that your non-existent heart will never be able to understand.

In the first day of your colleague at work, you told her you are the supervisor before rudely asking for her identity. You like that huh, a drunken sense of power that will never bring back your past lover no matter how loud you cry in the social media but makes you feel in control, somehow. It’s a defense mechanism called displacement.

It’s funny, somehow, the things I learnt about you. You are just like them — selfish, imprecise, and short-sighted. A chronic liar and a usurper. You pretend to be but you are never the sympathetic one.

I was that person all along.

To Fishy

Sunday morning I woke up and was informed about your passing. I literally jumped out of bed — did not bathe, did not change clothes, did not do anything but ran, as fast as I could, to see you.

I was not around when your accident came. A random stroke of bad luck that swept you away from me.

You were already wrapped in a black plastic bag when I arrived. They said your eyes were still open — those golden eyes that see through my inner-workings and understand me so well.

The easiest course of action was to simply throw your body in the dumpster and get on with life. It’s what normal people would have done. But you, of course, deserve better than that. And I, as we all know, am not normal. So I roamed round the village to borrow a shovel, all the while ruminating about your death.

You were passing through the door, they said, when the wind blew. The door slammed down your stomach, hard — so hard you cried in pain, ran away, and disappeared. You’re pregnant, and was due to give birth this March.

There was no shovel.

Sunday morning I woke up and learned about what happened. The wind, your disappearance, the conclusion of your existence. They said your eyes were still open — those golden eyes that see through my inner-workings and understand me so well. You died away from me, in pain and agony.

There was no shovel.

I took a hammer, an ice pick, and a knife, and began digging your grave. I don’t want to throw you in a dumpster, you don’t deserve that. If anything, you don’t deserve to die at all but I dug and dug and dug and did not stop until the hole is wide and deep enough to accommodate you in comfort. Since I was not able to save you, that is the least I can do.

I removed you from the plastic bag and laid you down. Despite everything, your coat remained shiny, that patch of black that means so much to me. I looked deep in your eyes, and for the final time I closed it down. I placed your toy with you, a ping pong ball that you loved to chase.

Then slowly, with all the strength I can muster, I buried your body.

I am not sure how I managed to accomplish those — I just did. It was one of the most painful thing I had ever done in this life.

Tonight, I learned that a black cat was spotted around the place, twice in a row. I have not seen the feline personally but they told me that she looks like you. I wonder if she also has yellow eyes — the color of street lamps in a cold, foggy night.

I wonder if you would visit me as well. I wish you would. I will hold the door still so the wind, no matter how hard, won’t callously sweep you away, not this time. You’ll eat tuna and chicken and everything you like. There will be a celebration.

A merry, merry one.

——————————————
*To Fishy Morgan Le Fay (April 2016 – March 2017)

The walls collapsed in sheer jealousy

Kiss me like there’s no tomorrow, you commanded in whispers, over your tangled sheet.

I sat on the edge of your bed and ran my fingers on your temple, down to your three-day-old beard. You have always been beautiful. To that fact, I submit myself.

I brushed the blanket out of your chest and placed my palm on your beating heart. “You’re getting married next week,” I breathed. It’s a statement and you know it.

“Yes,” you answered. You have hesitations and it is reeking.

“Not to me,” I replied. It’s a fact, without bitterness in it.

You reached for a lock of my hair and looked at me. One by one you unbuttoned my blouse. I let the heat of your breath burn my spine.

“Do you want me to leave her?” you asked. It’s a plea to make everything stand still.

“Oh no no,” I rebutted. It’s a command and it’s a selfish one. I slid my hand at the small of your back and drew circles.

“But I don’t want us to end,” you argued as you pinned me down the bed and tried to love me.

“We won’t end,” I guaranteed as your tongue traced the length of my neck.
I closed my eyes and exhaled your name.

You cupped my breasts and parted my thighs with your knees. You looked deep into my eyes, and as my head banged against the headboard, you made promises I did not believe.

You breathed, unevenly, as you thrust and pounded to and fro. You buried my face on your pillows and reveled in my every moan and scratch and prayer. I made you feel immortal.

You let the night love the parts of our selves that we cannot, and you made the walls collapsed in sheer jealousy
because you knew,
you knew,
that once we’re over
I will write a poem
out of these bruises.

Marshland

My internal landscape was once a wetland. Grasses and herbaceous plants sprout from the ventricles of my heart. My rib is a birch tree, a deciduous hard wood crowned with thin leaves. My veins are wild ravines. Inside it is the torrent of rain water that keeps me alive.
 
My heart is a beating water lily, eternally blooming on the lake of my blood. I was a sullen mist, and I loved it that way.
 
But they mistook my solitude for loneliness, the crowd, the clever engineers. So they loaded sands on their trucks, sacks after sacks. They opened me up, covered my wetland, and built a city inside me. They paved roads. They constructed buildings. They opened cafes and pubs and restaurants. They turned on their neon lights.
 
A rave party is inside me at night, and they won’t stop until I am filled with cigarette stubs and empty bottles and used issues and half-eaten plates — litters and grime that I have to clean every morning of my life. My gutter is overflowing and they call this happiness.
 
I call this wreckage.
 
I moved close to the bed, pulled the sheet and laid down. I tried to remember my by-gone world — my birch trees, my herbaceous plants, my wild ravines, my water lily — before I was converted into a rattling shell called Happiness.
 
You wrapped your arms around me and press your face on small of my back. My spine was a hard wood once, and every October it shed its golden leaves. “What do you want?” you asked.
 
The neon lights and the avalanche of noise from everywhere drowned my thoughts, and all I can do for my defense is curl my mutiliated body. “Love me until the end of everything,” I whispered. “And understand that this is not a plea.”
 
This is a burning desire to have my wetland back.