Month: March 2017

Ode to writing

I wrote a thousand different poems.

Each one, pressed like flowers and leaves

in dictionaries, my parents told me to read.

Some days, I think there aren’t enough words

in me. I used to chew on the margins of my

grade school notebooks, so when I talked- a sound

came out in the classroom. I wrote a song for a

girl whose hands are as warm as the steam

against my face, when I’ve opened the pot’s lid.

For this sensation, I remember the places and

people who’ve made me feel warm. My hands

are cold, with my self-deprivation forming

rings around my fingers. I wrote a letter to

people I’ve never met because I would have

liked to know them. Their words seep into the

graveyard’s grass, and shower a mist in a

mausoleum of urns. Somewhere, I learned

that if I think my words are important, I can

never say them directly face to face. I wrote

a paragraph or two for my parents on how

my childhood left me with an unrealistic

perspective that my younger self was the

only self I could be proud of. I wrote a

lullaby for my aches and groans, when I

held my arms tightly across my chest in the

night. Silent decays of belief and hope are

mine to keep. I wrote a song for a man I

knew who would never love me, and now

I think of how I don’t want him to. I wrote a

song for sex, afraid that when it happens, I

won’t like it at all. I wrote a song for rain, add-

ing an extra refrain for the days it never stops.

I wrote a limerick for myself, because the day

laughing gives way to sickness of a tearful mind –

I’ll read it again.

 

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The trellised fence (draft)

Bending down, I picked up the shards of the locket’s glass face. A sepia toned picture of my grandfather smiled up at me, as the tears lined the sides of my face. It finally happened. I knew she had enough of this family, and would leave for good.

With the plumes of incense smoke rising to the ceiling, I saw her favorite book on the recliner. Half-way through the poetry anthology she had read more than five times, I wondered if the bookmarked page had predicted the moment she would leave. She was like that after all. A word, a phrase, a scent took her away from the present and threw her into the need to get away from wherever she was.

In my hand, I saw the metal back carved into criss-crossing triangles on the locket. Mom had worn it last. The clasp, full of my sister’s curly hair, had been replaced twice. We rummaged through antique stores, and thrift stores to find a clasp the same tint of the metal. Somehow, I thought we picked out a worn-out piece, which would break just as easily. Yet, a new clasp would not do. Old things are meant to be preserved with ones just like them. My sister had said this over dinner. Mouthful of fried rice, she explained that it was betterthat  she wouldn’t be young forever.

“I’m tired of not knowing,” she said tapping her chopsticks on the side of her bowl.

“You say that now,” our uncle said. “Doesn’t get better from here on. You get wise not invincible.” Lifting one of the vegetable dumplings from the middle platter, I watched him smile between bites at our mother.

A knock came from the door.

I placed the few pieces in my hand onto the side table. A vase full of daffodils, my mother’s birth flowers, stood there alongside two sets of keys. Whoever knocked the first time, waited patiently. Before I turned the latch, I peered through the peephole. A young kid with black bangs fraying out of his snapback held one of my sister’s shoes in his hand.

Birthing fragile flowers

My unborn children are wilted flowers.

I fear their feet will touch the frigid floors,

where I trail my sadness behind me.

My unborn children are potted plants,

because I am afraid I will fail them –

if I let them see the world –

where I have become a failure.

Incarnate god,

God, whose face rests like a lotus,

brow  not furrowed by calamity,

I weep for them.

My children, whose ribs ache of hearty tears,

I promise I have thought of you-

since I knew I had twigs in my uterus

capable of building nests.

My children, whose chromosomes are half,

my love is afraid to make you a whole being,

so I shall wait.

My children,

I was born in the flower bed,

where my parents used spoons

instead of a small spade to till soil.

My unborn children,

I hold my hand against my cheek,

and think how my love breathes only a few feet in front of me,

as a frost cloud when my lips are parted in winter.