Off Beat Memory Play

[This is an old story I unearthed from my files, bare with me as I share a few paragraphs at at time]

It was in the sadness that I found myself most comfortable in. The breath of absence was felt–thick among the things that were no longer there. I could not remember how everything happened. All that is left is a memory of the strong perfume he wore and the door closing.

I find myself empty with tears, like nothing happened. I cook pasta. I wait for it to boil. I take out the can of crushed tomatoes and found a piece of him hiding: an open pack of red Malboros. He was still smoking. I poured the linguine into the pot of angry boiling water and waited.

Waiting is like meditation minus the goal of emptying oneself. It is just that space that fills time where a few thoughts lurk. Right now though, it is just empty space carefully being filled by boiling pasta and simmering tomatoes.

K and I met years ago in a cafe across the university. I served him his tall non-fat extra hot vanilla latte. While I barely remembered his face or name, his mouthful of an order and his bright yellow smiley shirt stuck.

It was a week before Christmas when I first served him his tall non-fat extra hot vanilla latte and the only exchange between the two of us was a ‘thank you’ and ‘enjoy you’re drink.’

TBC

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Open Spaces #2: An Improbable Quiet

[ Open spaces is a series of poem inspired by some of my own paintings.]

An Improbable Quiet

I knew the sound of fury

of glass shattering as a

gin bottle flies across the air

land a few inches shy

of my mother’s scared face.

 

I knew the sound of breath

struggling out of a mouth

as a hand held my neck

squeezing through flesh

and fragile bone.

 

Every sound I knew

echoed fear worn

like skin and pain

numbed with practice.

 

Every sound I knew—

creaking doors, leather

hitting plump flesh,

bones breaking as wails

and howls escaped human lips

were truths tattooed in my soul.

 

I thought I knew every sound there was

until this…

a quiet—

of wind through blades of grass

of the sky sighing in welcome

of my own tears

murmuring  a joy I thought

forever impossible.

 

 

 

Child, Love Hasn’t Failed You

Love failed you again, hasn’t it? You haven’t called since we last spoke and I felt trouble was brewing on your side of this world. How have you been? I wanted to cloak you in comfort, but you chose independence. That choice bears the joy of being on your own, and the burden of bearing the pain on your own.

You told me last time you were doing better. You told me last time; you aren’t about to do anything crazy for love. But you’ve told me so many things before and how you ate your words again and again. I worry. You don’t call often, but you do at least once a month. The month is about over and I haven’t heard from you. Love failed you again, hasn’t it? Continue reading Child, Love Hasn’t Failed You

Today, the Dragons Came

Today, the  dragons came. I stood by the hill, overlooking the sea when from the horizon I saw a shadow—majestic, massive and overpowering. In that moment, darkness overcame the land—as if the mother of dragons swallowed the sun as it flew towards the hill.

I stood frozen, frightened by the sight of its wide wings, impenetrable scales and its powerful  claws. I was too tiny, too insignificant for its presence and yet, here I stood unmoving. What can my weak arms do to overcome such power? What kind of fight can a spirit overwrought with fear be able to do?

Continue reading Today, the Dragons Came

I Never Knew

“Like air” he said as he raised his hand in a graceful surrender to the breeze sweeping through the tiny hill we stood on.

“You want to be like air?” I asked as I watch his hair fly in disarray. He hadn’t cut it since September, and now it was a mess of brown curls sweeping across his face.

“Yes, then I’d be essential to you.”

I laughed and stared into the horizon he had been staring at since we started this absurd conversation.

“You already are. You always have been.”

I feel his eyes on me. I keep staring into the horizon, wiping my mouth with my hand and feeling the growing beard I was too lazy to shave this morning. I look down and watch our shadows meet as the space between us fill with the words we kept inside.

“I never knew.”

“Now you do.”

The Weight of Memories

Memories, what are they for?
To him, they were ghosts plaguing his mind. For there was no choosing. The happy recollections came with the painful ones. He despised it.

At night he lays staring at the empty space beside him. He hears laughter and feels the tears well up in his eyes. His stomach turns. Anger seething beneath his chest. Running to the kitchen, he opens a can of beer and gulps it down. One after the next.

Six empty cans on the sink. A few sleeping hours free of memories.

Four hours later, he wakes up to the sound of an intruding alarm clock. He throws it across the room. Silence, then throbbing. His head pulsating with its own heartbeat. Splashing water on his face, he stares at the mirror. Black circles, swollen and empty eyes stare back. The mirror breaks, shattering to a thousand piece. He washes his hands, watching as the water turns pink.

He goes down for coffee. Opening cupboards in search of the cereal box that was usually in the middle of the breakfast nook when he wakes up. The sound of cabinet doors opening and shutting, rhythmically mimicing a man’s angry heartbeat. He throws the cereal bowl on the sink. Breaking. He drinks his coffee. His hands still bleeding. He wraps a towel.

Sunlight streams through the glass doors. He hears that soft voice speaking out his name before that light giggling laughter. Stillness. He drowns himself with his coffee. Then, brings himself to the shower. Soaking himself beneath it, muffling the sound of his wailing.

A robe would do. He wraps himself in it and begins to sort. Each piece of clothing warm to his cold skin, burning him with fragments of a fast fading memory. Each piece perfectly arranged in a box marked with bold letters STORAGE at its side. The rustling sound of clothes hanging in the closet echoes the sound of a wedding train dragged across a church. He stops midway. His hands sliding down the garment he held. His knees giving in. A silent scream leaves his mouth. He curls on the floor, fetus-like. His breathing short and rapid. His eyes sore. His heart heavy.

The phone rings. The answering machine takes it.
“Hi, you’ve just reach Dave and Joan. We aren’t here right now, please leave a message.” Her voice reverberated through him. Freezing every inch of his body, then breaking it. “Hi dave, i heard the news. I’m so….”
He pulls the cord, as life had pulled his.

Holding on to a piece of white satin, he mourns.

Original written in 2008

Unboxed

 

When my mother gave birth to me

They swaddled me with a marker

That told the world my anatomy

Providing me a name that fit

With a skin they though they

Understood

 

It fit in the sterile world

Like predictable gloves

Clinging, possessing but never

Comfortable enough for everyday

Wear. I tugged sleeves and hems

And scratched my head and its

Growing hair, screaming

Discomfort everywhere

 

In an act deemed rebellious

shed this skin, superficially ingrained

To my biology–that physiological

Truth clinging between my legs

Wrapping myself with a marker

That told the world of my

ambiguity

 

 

With the undeniable heart

that wavers not in pinks or blues

But in the mixture of hues that spread

Through a million different tones—

Short hair, squared out clothes

I move back and forth, like water

Fluid in its motion.

 

Letting skin, be skin

Bones be bones

None of which shape the person

That sits within its soul

Never molding, ever moving

And claiming what is true and

Of my own.

 

Original drafted in April 2016, finalized in Sept 2016.