Sunday, June 18, 2017

A Spell of Names

She ran into the wood, laughing. The sound echoed small, tinkling bells, golden with life. Enchanted, he followed, pushing away branches and boughs that never seemed to touch the woman. They made way for her; she floated through them, the hem of her soft yellow dress trailing her back like the foam of a matte gold waterfall.

"Let us disappear and just be our names," she said, looking back at him, her eyes bright with sunlight.

There was a soundless clap--she turned into a butterfly. The man was overcome with lightness and joy. He had, at last, become his name.

13 June 2017
UP Diliman
The Trees at twilight

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Variation on a Theme: Erato

A brief lustre in the distance, a gentle
splash made the man look
up from the sand
where he had lain
the objects in his pocket, to which
he had added a pebble.

The sky was spread out into the evening,
watching, as the man mouthed
the words: car key, pen, cigarettes,
pebble
over and over
until the names lost their sense,
as repetition does what it does:
strip things of meaning.

The man had forgotten his name.
He did not know who he was. A voice
in a long-ago, forgotten figment
had called out to him--from a window,
from seafoam; it was loneliness
that made him come.

The slice of light caught his eyes,
igniting a memory--
the sea, a blowing wind, a woman
shrouded in moonlight, a strange song--
that could just as well have been a dream,
for the man did not believe
in things unseen;

still, he stood up and walked closer
to the water. The moon had risen
and so had his sadness,
sharper now that he was surrounded
by so much softness: wave,
breeze, starlight, song, a distant glimmer
which now grew nearer,
and he, caught in shadow,
lost certainty of movement:

Did he move closer, or
did the light?

He held back his tears, kept
the loveliness at bay, for men
from his world never cried.
But the shimmer soon shone
into long, spun locks,
streaming down a paleness--
shoulders, a face, eyes looking into
his, piercing his soul:
I see you, a voice spoke, though there
was no sound. You
summoned, and I came
.

Transfixed, the man felt soft fingers
trailing his cheek and the tears fell,
bidden by touch, dear warmth
traversing his cold pathways,
awakening his slumbering soul.

Leaning close, she whispered his name
into his mouth. Stop searching
for me, for I am
always with you.


Variation on a Theme: The Transformation of Psyche


It was pain that lifted her off the ground.
With each that she suffered, she found
she was shedding off just a little more
skin, flesh, bone,
and all the weight they came with;

mind and more mind, she shut out,
and less and less they became
until her body mirrored glass--
clear and solid, ready
for reflection, to break
into pieces, into fragments
of likenesses, shrapnels of soul,
to shatter into

possibility.

Yet in resembling glass--
and parallels are limitless--
she only resembled glass;
for it is true what the gods say: nothing
is as it is. Fragile, she was strong;
and she was strong only as far
as she allowed herself to break.

This, Psyche understood, to the heart
alone does the soul succumb;
and in understanding, she shattered,
shattering into all that she could become--
hard surface and quiet stream,
air, dream, a pair of butterfly wings.

She brushed past distances,
erasing them; she flowed into healing tears,
became sky, abyss, vastness;
she refracted light and shadow,
catching glimpses of the self coccooned
in self;

she began to comprehend
disappearance; she discovered
weightlessness. Lightness

and light started tapping
at her edges, her edges giving
way and giving way to let
the light in, gentle ripples, sliver, golden;
mysteries, translucent, small
until felt;
wisp-like miracles, silent
until known.

Later, standing near the water
in trance, trembling, transformed,
she grew porous with brilliance
and became the word
Luminous.


Sunday, June 4, 2017

Variation on a Theme: Psyche

Three tasks, she had fulfilled,
and with the last triumph she felt weakest,
because mortal, slight and barefoot;

yet about to earn what the books
henceforth called her--the Goddess
of the Soul.

The first of her burdens:

after loss, to look upon a mountain of the seeds of the everyday,
difficult tomorrows to be sifted through and lived,
while time goes with agonizing slowness,
fatal for the lonely;
to gather, and with a clear eye, for
one mistake leads back to the beginning,
back to despair.

But she does as she must:

she rearranges her broken life and
lifts it to the sky,
"I have gathered the grains into neat, perfect piles."

Unfazed, Aphrodite demands the golden fleece
and Psyche trembles, terrified
of the wrath of the rams.

But Zeus, hearing her prayers,
sends forth the mighty eagle of perspective which,
with its gift of perfect sight, guides Psyche to triumph:
Anger dims once the sun sets, she whispers again and again
while, with patience borne only of love, she awaits twilight
for the rams to graze by the tranquil river,
and she gathers the precious thread.

Golden fleece offered with trembling hands,
Psyche is next commanded to bring a flask
from the Waters of Forgetfulness--
but how, she cries, how does one forget?
Forgiving alone was difficult enough.
Yet she sets to task, battling with her sorrows,
listening

to the voices she had once drowned
and now letting them flow into wisdom;
she confronts a montage of pain,
finally seeing what they had to teach--


until she had filled the flask,
until she had forgotten.

But now, the last test of courage:
to brave death and return alive.
"I have done enough," was her woeful cry,
but the brave will brave love, and so we find
Psyche in Hades' realm, aided by the knowledge

offered by the compassionate:
"Coins for Charon to row you through The River Styx,

bread for three-headed Cerberus".

Curbing fear into her fist, Psyche plunges the impossible:
to be human and face the harrowing depths of death,
to draw wisdom from one's solitude
and shine a light of hope--however little, however flickering

between faith and despair--
in the darkness of a wretched life,
to grasp the hands of grace.

She emerges from a death-like sleep
and there, Eros waits,
home to all the dreams she had woven
as child, girl, woman.
"Awaken, My Love."

Four tasks, Psyche had fulfilled,
and the prize was immortality:
For love gifts us with the wings of courage,
placing the sky within reach.

Piano Sonata in C# Minor, "Moonlight", Ludvig Van Beethoven


It must be night, else I must be dreaming.

So, it is night. So, it is that the moon illuminates our loneliness and propels them round and round, brushing our arms and touching our cheeks, one living being to another. Our plights take flight and descend, sighing, into our ears, sending ripples of sadness across all that we do, all that we hold in our empty hands--hovering above half-finished coffee cups, grazing past barely-buried regrets, lightly touching the jagged tear in an unread letter, crossing a lamplit room teeming with stasis, swooping into hearts that plunge the unfathomable depths of suffering, echoing the unasked questions, moving past the boundaries of what can be known, swirling gloriously, unheeding of conclusions, yet, shining a light upon them.

If only we had eyes to see.

Souls tremble in containment, reaching for edges of moonlight, never rising quite enough to touch.

Wine Glass

long-stemmed--your
neck, my eyes
graze, as you take a sip
from a corner
of the wine's mouth
and something spills
inside me:
sobriety, perhaps,
melting, a rivulet
trickling down,
and all around, the world dews
into haze, fluid
crystal
I turn
into that glass--

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Variation on a Theme: Eros

Faceless, you arrive. Breathless from your journey--through mountains and pain, across sorrow, a sea--you arrive. It is evening and the moon stands watch, beautiful and indifferent.

Underneath the bower of violet wisteria, I stand in silence, listening to your footsteps. Heavy, at first, then lighter, and lighter. The echoes of night fade upward, to the stars. I hold my breath--let nothing disrupt the sound of your arrival--and look toward your direction. Light, my love, so much light there is.

Faceless, you have arrived. I become Psyche, with neither lamp, nor doubts.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Everywhere


I have dreamed of this: the sound of your footfalls, that voice, calling out, "Love?", the door opening, the sight of you, that look on your face. Even the sunlight that falls on you looks familiar. The glow in your eyes. This violent beating of my heart. The warmth of this morning wraps me in its familiar glow--surely, I have been here before?

You have tiptoed into my life and found your way into everything I love and hold dear--my favorite poetry; the pages of my books; the fragrant steam from the coffee cup; the trickle of sweat down the back of my arm; the strains of melancholy and the bursts of emotion in the songs that I love; the light that streams through the curtains; the knowledge that I am surrounded by windows; the door that I open to let you in. My heart is well-trained to see you everywhere. I only have to glance anywhere to see you there. 

You are in the prayer of gratitude I throw out into the void. You are the seal of contentment on my lips. Your presence laces the surfaces of all that surround me. You are the center of whatever day it is I am in. 

You are the sea I want to keep coming back to, the shore I dream of taking long walks on. You are the face of the sky, the light of the moon, the map of stars whose vivid shine I trace with my eyes. 

It feels as if we have been everywhere, my love. And yet we have only just begun. 

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Hours

Morning 

The coffee is almost done and the house smells wonderful, just as you said it would. You are asleep and I am watching you, tracing your profile with my eyes--those remarkable lines, cuts, corners, turns and drops, all pathways leading somewhere where you are you, and which I want to spend the rest of my life exploring. You once expressed worry over making sure I would not get restless--what you can't seem to see is that your presence is all I need to keep me feeling alive. You could spend the entire day fixing the roof, or mooning over a wall, for all I care--as long as I know you are here, I will be all right, all will be all right. Time and place become irrelevant. Anywhere is everywhere. You can paint anything the color of magic. 

Afternoon 

Nothing like an afternoon drive along the highway with you to remind me that we are on our way to something beautiful--no, in fact, we are already here, traveling the road of our lives together, our souls entwined as if they were always meant to grasp each other. The approaching twilight doesn't seem so daunting anymore. How could it when I have you here beside me? The light in your eyes mirrors the core of the sun, magnificent in its blanket of bursting hues--all made more beautiful because you are here to light up the dusk for the rest of my life. Do I dare dream of a rest-of-my-life with you? Ah, but meeting you alone has already been too wondrous for words. Surely, a girl can dream. 

Evening 

Outside, the shades of dusk render the world mellow and calm. Evening is well on its way somewhere, people are on their way home, lost in the rush of things. Here, you are reading the lines of a poem I love, a little baffled at the verses but reciting the words, anyway. My heart is in my throat, amazed at the newness you show me each day, afloat in the clouds because no one has read me poetry before, when poetry makes up half the loves of my life. The sound of your voice feels so much like home, like warmth, like all the things I have loved and will always love. What is this sorcery you possess that makes me feel weak and so alive, at the same time? 

Night

The threat of time forgotten, we dance to the beat and words of a song we both love. There is nothing quite like the feeling of your arms wrapped around me, your hands caressing the small of my back, your breath against my ears, my neck, my shoulders. I touch my face to yours and a feeling of fulfillment washes over me when I see your eyes closed in rapture and peace, all at once, because your happiness is mine, too. You've often said you will make me fall in love with you everyday. And because you are the man with the golden touch, my love, and you can do anything you put your mind to--you have done exactly that. 

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Hours

I want to be the ray of sunlight that slants across your cheek, whose warmth and light you wake up to. I want to be the window that lets in that light. 

I want to be the door that lets you into the porch where a mild breeze stirs and touches you; I want to be that breeze. The view of the sea that welcomes you each morning--I want to be that view. I want to be that sea. I want to be that morning.

I want to be the cool afternoon wind that caresses you as you walk along the shore. I want to be the sand beneath your feet. I want to be the horizon you look toward, I want to be the thoughts you think when you look at that horizon, watching the sunset. I want to be that sunset.

I want to be the sky you look up to when the stars start coming out. I want to be the constellations you look for; I want to be that one last, lost star that will complete your blanket of light. 

I want to be the moonlight reflected on the water, calming the tempests in your mind. I want to be the calm you seek, the moonbeam that kisses your eyelids close, the music in the waves that lull you to sleep. I want to be those waves.

The night that encloses you in its embrace as you lay dreaming--I want to be that night, I want to be that dream.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Variation on a Theme: Daphne and Apollo

She turns. 

Yet again,

that swivel to the back,
the weakening in her middle, heart
succumbing to the longing
for sight, the way a flower
seeks the sun that gives it 
life even as it, too, burns
its way through the liquid
pathways, fire portending 
danger. 

Her arms, flailing, exasperation 
manifesting in the force, frail
and brutal, all at once--
how much longer will the feet hold
this run, this escape to nowhere 
from the very thing she holds dear 
and yet shuns? Briefly, she pauses,
a slight billow in the breeze,
a figure swaying, in-between,
praying for elsewhere--

And he of swift limbs poised
to capture, reaches out with all the strength
he can muster, encircles
her slight paleness with his embrace,
solid and pure, grasping, locking
her length with his, pleading, tenderness
and force in the confused whirl
of the moment

which he knows is his, 
for now she is looking, at last,
in his eyes, a sad sweetness, her soul
reaching out for his:

Anchor me. 


Sunday, March 27, 2016

Tonight, I, too, can write the saddest lines


And when I think of violins, I will think of you. You, waiting, as I walk toward you. You, smiling, your hands on your waist, holding promises of yet unseen blue skies and beautiful shorelines, of yet unknown pleasures shared in coffee cups and delightful lunches, in laughter, in conversations. 

When I think of trees, I will think of you leading me to one, trying to help me climb one. I will think of you leaping to cling to a branch, hooting and laughing, happy. I will think of you and me, falling in love with trees together. I will think of you reciting the names of shrubs and plants and flowers. I will think of you giving tea another name, though I will not remember the name, just you, saying it.

When I think of stars, I will think of you, gazing up at the night sky, tracing the constellations with your fingers. I will think of you and I, wrapped in a blanket, warm despite the cold, never more alive despite the hour, the dark. I will think of you, evermore my brightest star, always gleaming. I will think of you, always far away.

When I think of the sun, I will think of you, my sun--ever lighting up my life, shining on my most sought-after dreams. I will think of sunlight slanting across my most peaceful afternoons, peaceful because you are there, because you are you. I will think of bright, fragrant mornings, of clouds we once looked down at, of twilights I am no longer afraid of, because your light was there to ward off the gloom from the approaching dark. 

When I think of elsewheres, I will think of you. And my dreams will be alive where you are, they will go on unfolding, I will live where you are, my voice in the silence that will follow you everywhere. 

Always elsewhere, my love, ever elsewhere, never here. 

Friday, March 25, 2016

Afternoons


The fire is nice and warm and I'm snuggled in my writing chair, my feet up, my main character about to enter his moment of epiphany. You are sneaking up from behind me, planning some antic, thinking I wouldn't notice. 

"Oh no, you don't, mister," I say in a singsong voice, and I feel you freeze. Then, a snicker. I go on typing, laughing inwardly. You walk back to the couch and start strumming your guitar. "You know, if you don't stop being naughty this rain is never gonna stop."

You give me a sheepish look and say, "sorry, love," with that lopsided grin of yours. You look like a very tall 8-year old right now, cute as a baseball cap. You start playing a Jack Johnson song and hum to it.

We had closed shop quite early on account of the nonstop rain and the date today; barely a handful of people would want to be outdoors on an extended downpour like this, anyway. We figured going home would be best and we braved the rain, sharing my small umbrella, which so conveniently snapped as we were running, and so we got soaked, laughing as we raced toward your waiting truck. You had kissed me after shutting your door, hair dripping and all, wet and gorgeous and charming the wits out of me like you always do. 

"Love?" You pause your playing.

"Yes, love?" I, frowning down at my screen, trying to decide if the girl should get ice cream or not, and if it's an essential scene, in the first place. It's almost 6 and I haven't made much progress. 

"I love you," you, "do you love me, hm?"

"You know I do. Now be a good boy and go on playing that lovely little tune--but what is that hideous smell, love?" My voice rises a little in panic.

"Oh, shit, no!" You scram to the kitchen and groan loudly. "My roast beef! Argh!"

I leave my spot and walk toward you, hugging you from behind. "It's ok love, we'll figure something out," I say, staring at the smoky carcass of a once-beautiful cake of beef, now charred, beyond saving. With a pot holder, you take it out of the oven and throw it into the bin, shaking your head, looking at me like a contrite little boy. "Dinner is ruined, love."

I plant a kiss on your cheek and tell you, "I don't care. We can get buy another one tomorrow and do it all again. For now, let's have omelettes!" 

You scratch the back of your head and smile. "Eggs, it is, then."

I take a peek through the curtain and see that twilight has long gone--evening is here, and I think to myself life can't get better than this--the storm, your burnt dinner, the warmth of you and I all around. I shut a window and hum a tune. 

Meanwhile, you are rummaging through the fridge, hellbent on starting a new feast. 

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Evenings

My heart is racing, I feel weak in my knees. Tucked in a corner of the bar and sitting in the shadows, I am watching you croon your heart to the crowd. Sure fingers making love to your guitar, brows furrowed in emotion, voice flowing out of your lips luxuriously like the lilac wine you are singing of--you are in your element and I am transported to a beautiful place, where you are, where I am.

I had snuck out of my unfinished manuscript of a story, unable to stand not being with you, not seeing you for an entire day. As quietly and as discreetly as I could, I tiptoed into a corner and now I am drinking you in with my eyes, my senses absorbing all that you are on that stage--electric, intense. I have been praying all night that you wouldn't see me. So far, you have not, and I am free to be invisible in my enchantment.

But now you are singing--

But tonight you're on my mind so you never know/ When i'm broken down and hungry for your love with no way to feed it/ Where are you tonight, child you know how much i need it/

--and you look up from the strings and seem to be searching the sea of people for something, someone, and your eyes sweep past me like the ray of a lighthouse and my heart goes up to my throat for a moment. Soon the moment is gone, and I breathe out a sigh of relief. 

A glow lights up your face and now you are smiling as you sing--

It's never over, my kingdom for a kiss upon her shoulder/ It's never over, all my riches for her smiles when i slept so soft against her/

--and with one swift tilt of your head, you look straight into my eyes and I know, at that moment, I am invisible no more. Your eyes pierce through my being and straight into my soul, and there we are, meeting in one very definite point in time and space, connected and aglow, incandescent in our shared light, distant and glimmering. 

What is this nameless, endless fire you have given me, Love? What is this brightness you have ignited in me, that sends me reeling with life into the light of all things? 

Let me stay here, found out by you, visible and vulnerable to your seeing, knowing eyes, I who have, yet again, summoned you unknowingly to where I am. 

You always, always arrive. Let me be lost in the middle of all this loveliness--your music, your eyes, your light--for I know you will always come to find me.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Mornings

Reeling with happiness at the stretches of cobbled streets I've stepped on and the rows of pretty awnings I've walked under--but most of all, at the feel of my hand tucked securely in yours--I breathe in the fragrance of Toulouse, shivering a little at the hint of chill in the air, grateful for the warmth lent by the friendly, mildly foreign sun. 

I am proud of myself for having woken up before you, this morning, kissing the tip of your nose and tousling your hair, edging you out of bed, saying, "wake up, Love," five times, when it is always you who says those words, never I. 

Ah, but today, I did. 

I take a sip of my delicious coffee, savoring its fragrance, my skin tingling with happiness at being where I am right now, with you. I adjust the brim of my wide hat--which you bought for me yesterday evening as we were walking back to our hotel, because you know that the sun and I have a love-hate relationship--and watch you staring at a sleek black renault parked across the street. Men and cars, I muse, and try to switch to thinking in the language of this country: hommes et voitures. My "Francaise" is appalling--how does one say this in French? Wait--les hommes et les voitures

I frown at my croissant and the pocket dictionary perched beside the plate. When I look up, you are looking at me, smiling. "A lovely morning to you, too, my love," you say, "let me kiss that frown away from your face." 

And you do, leaning over the red-checked table to kiss me.

"Bonjour, mon beau," I whisper back..

"Now how do I call that waiter?" you ask.

"Ah," I say, "you just shout garçon! I think." And you do just that. 

The garçon walks to our sunlit table and asks, "oui, Monsieur? Mademoiselle?" I smile at what he just called me. You gesture with your hands and the waiter looks quizzically at you. You scratch your head, grinning like a shy little boy. 

"Une billet, sil vous plait," I say, and he smiles, nodding, then walks away. 

"I had better look at that dictionary, love," you laugh. 

I smile happily at you, thinking how you are beautiful anywhere, in any language. 

Around us, foreign words float like musical notes, and I sit back on my chair, drinking in the loveliness. You are perfect, sitting across from me, adjusting your glasses and looking up at the sky. There is a dreamy look in your face, and I brim with contentment. What a beautiful morning today is and the rest of the day stretches before us like a promise that's about to be kept, gleaming in the sunlight, golden and bright.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Everywhere


Kiss me in the rain, Love, quiet my fears with the light in your eyes. Take me everywhere with you, tie my hand to yours.

I want to step on the grass with you, walk across bridges with you, wait for sunrises with you, explore the woods with you, walk along shorelines with you, get sunburnt in the sea with you. I want to kiss you as suns set, lie beneath the stars with you, wake up from a dreamless sleep with you, take afternoon naps with you, dance in the rain with you, look down at fluffy clouds with you, paint walls blue and rose with you, marvel inside art museums with you, have lunch in Prague with you, look up at the Eiffel Tower with you, enter Thai temples with you, twirl spaghetti in Italy with you, gasp at the Stone Henge with you.

I want to be silly with you, cry buckets over sad movies with you, leap over puddles with you, hide in the shadows with you, run distances with you, let my hair loose and be free with you, learn the constellations with you, read poetry with you, listen to guitar strains and drumbeats with you, slow dance with you, fall asleep beside the sea with you, get drunk in a bar and go home with you, spend lazy weekends with you, look down from rooftops with you, climb trees with you, visit musty, old libraries with you, walk down tree-lined paths with you, dance beneath wisteria-wrapped bowers with you, carve names and hearts on tree trunks with you.

Take me everywhere, Love. Or just somewhere. Because somewhere--anywhere--with you is everywhere.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Rain

How silently the heart
pivots on its hinge
- Jane Hirschfield

The night is full of sighs. Doleful, longing.

The darkness stretches on for miles and hearts shudder at the unknowns lurking in the shadows: betrayal, fear, anguish, sorrow. A question is tossed into the night: What are you doing tonight, Love? It boomerangs into an answer that tortures the mind, like so.

Lamps stay on in a paltry number of houses where Insomniacs go about their day, where lovers wonder about tomorrow, where the brokenhearted lie awake, weeping in silence, shivering in the aftermaths of rain.

Unwritten letters get sent out into the void, transmitted by cold air--messages that hardly reach those they are meant for, things that remain unsaid even as the sender hopes they had not remained unsaid until it was too late. And so the heart becomes a lonely prowler.

Tomorrow's weather forecast promises more rain, more gloom. The sleeping remain sleeping; those awake toss and turn in unrealized dreams of loss and regret, praying for morning to come, and yet wishing it would not.

Raindrops start to knock on doors and windows. Soon, the rain falls in sheets, murmuring litanies.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Mornings


I am roused by the sound of raindrops pattering against glass. Beside me, you are asleep, and I watch the steady rise and fall of your chest, your lashes black against the copper of your skin, your figure etched against the white sheets. I snuggle close to feel your warmth, willing sleep to come back.

Outside, it is still dark. The sound of your breathing is drowned by the rain and I lean closer to listen. Your breathing calms me. It assures me of your nearness, it quiets my mind. It reminds me that you are here, and I do need reminding sometimes, still.

I burrow my face into your neck. I drink in your scent and think of soap and water, young leaves, morning dew. You stir and I try to keep very still, hoping you'd stay asleep. We turned in quite late last night--despite you being exhausted, you stayed up with me as I worked on the manuscript I had been stuck on for weeks now. You talked about nebulae and constellations, the mysteries of the heart. I ended up typing them down into my story. Somehow, they tied neatly with the narrative. I sat, musing, wondering as always if you were the muse sent to me by the Greeks.

"But of course I am, Love," you, after I voiced out my thoughts, "what else could I be? Don't I look like a muse to you?" You grinned like a schoolboy and I tossed a crumpled post-it smack into your neck, laughing at the image of you as Calliope or Erato. "You look more like sun-kissed Apollo, Superman." I love how you never fail to make me laugh.

"So which is it? Apollo or Superman?" You put your feet up on the ottoman. "Ah, well. I guess I can morph into whoever it is you want me to be. Just because I can, you know."

Yes, you're magical, that way. But I keep it to myself.

Meanwhile, you wrap your arms around me, your eyes still shut as you mumble something about supernova in your sleep. I close my eyes and drift off into slumber, the sound of your breathing blending with the rain's.


Vessel


Hungry anchor to my mooring--
fastened, fierce;

glow of firelight clinging 
to surfaces, your skin 
on mine, your rage entwined
with mine, dancing flames
reaching upward, licking
the ceiling, flickering
against walls;

your eyes, dark sea of wine 
I sink into. I
shiver, my love, and you
brace me from below,
the sway of evening underway:
tide of bliss in motion, a rocking 
certainty--our souls
clasping 
into one.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Mornings


I hear the door click shut and I start to panic. My scrambled eggs are a mess and I just realized I had put too much oil in the pan for the bacon.

I hear you whistling, and soon, your arms are around me, and you plant a kiss on my nape. I wriggle out of your embrace and shout, "stop it, I need to focus on your eggs!"

"I think my eggs are just fine," you say, looking over my shoulder to check the yellow blob on the frying pan. "Hmm. You want me to take over?"

"Please do, Love," I sigh with relief. I am out of sorts this morning. I had woken up later than usual.

You whisk the wooden spatula from my hand. "Ok, princess, sit down and watch me do some magic." I do as I'm told, and gladly, too. I watch as you fix the mess of a breakfast I had been trying to prepare. Quick and sure, you are also something of a god in the kitchen, I suppose.

"Had a good jog?" I hand you the pepper mill.

"Yes, Love, although I wish you'd come with me. I didn't have the heart to wake you up this morning. You were fast asleep. What kept you up last night?" Eggs done, you are now chopping garlic for the fried rice. I stare at your hands.

I tell you about my dream--people with faces but no names, all staring at me with hostility and censure. I tell you about how, in the dream, I knew who they were and yet didn't know them, at the same time. I tell you how, when I woke up, I was crying, and cried even more when I saw that you weren't beside me.

You pull me into your arms and kiss me on the forehead. "I'm sorry, Love. But hush, it's all over now. I'm taking you out today."

My face lights up. "You are? Where? Where?" I tug at your sleeve.

"There, on the porch." You throw the garlic into the oil, and I give you a whack on the butt. You laugh and I roll my eyes at you.

Soon, we are having breakfast outdoors. Bacon, eggs, your antics and daydreams, a view of the blue sea--just some of my favorite things on a lovely, mildly sunny morning. I take a sip from my coffee, your voice and the sound of crashing waves all mingling in my ears like the soundtrack to a perfect day.

Nights


Your face, lit by the pale glow of a candle--

I gasp and ask myself if anything could be more beautiful, if any other man could take my breath away like this. Nothing, no face or name comes to mind.

In this very moment, I am floating in a sea of music, and wine, and you. From across the table, you look at me, expectant yet steady--waiting for me to snap out of the spell I'm in, perhaps? I am smitten with you tonight, Love, like I always am. But tonight is special, if only because tonight is the newest night of our lives, and every hour with you is always better than the last.

My thoughts are wandering. I am oblivious to the drone of voices around us--are they even voices, or just a buzzing in my head?

What's on your mind tonight, Love? Your eyes are aglow. I am being pulled into you, like I always am, when you look at me like that.







Saturday, January 30, 2016

Evenings


Elsewhere, it is twilight. Elsewhere, I hear your footfalls on the wooden planks that lead to our doorstep. My heart is fluttering with butterflies I can hardly contain.

Soon, the knob turns and I hold my breath. The door opens and I behold your leg, your shoulder, half your face, half your smile. I run toward you and leap into your arms, and my entire world becomes your embrace.

Elsewhere, we kiss like we had been apart for years, when I had just walked you to your car this morning.

Elsewhere, our lips part and you gently touch my chin to look into my eyes.

Elsewhere, I drown in bliss. Elsewhere, I have no thoughts of elsewhere.

Here, I teach myself, over and over, to let go.

I always end up waiting for you to come home.

Prayer


Teach me to walk away:
from what hurts me,
where I am not needed,
where I intrude,
where I am but shadow,
where I cause pain.

Teach me to turn my back
on the wait for what will never come.

Teach me to accept
what will never be.

Teach me to remember
what it feels like to be abandoned,
how it is to look down on myself,
what the self looks like in the mirror
of doubt and loneliness.

I have forgotten;
teach me again.

I thrash around my self-made net
of misery, my hands bleeding
from holding on--
Teach me to let go.

Teach me.

Variation on a Theme: Apollo's Lament


"In the heart
of the wood,

a god learns too late:
love transforms
never quite in one way."


- J. Neil C. Garcia, "Daphne and Apollo"

God of the sun, he
sees but half his light.

Half-blind from the glare of his own
sadness, he sees
only the certainty of her
shape--roots clawed in fear,
the absence of body
in the whorls of her length, stillness
amidst her shaking leaves:
formlessness in form,
trance in transformation.

Even as she sighs, it is
only the wind he hears, and not her
voice, whispering:
I love you enough to love
you my entire life;
I love you enough to love
you only as I am, silent and without
reproach;
I love you enough to know
that I can defy the desire
to possess;
I love you enough to give up
movement and sight.

Consumed by his loss,
he turns his back
and walks away, head bowed,
transfixed by the wreath
of her leaves.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Nights


Words elude me tonight, Love. I am filled only with prayer that your path and mind be lit with starlight and moonshine, that your thoughts be clear, and your heart be safe in the knowledge that it is loved.

The night is dark but the sun awaits.

And Love, you are my sun.

Close your eyes and drift to sleep.

I am here, always here.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Mornings


The sky is painted a certain shade of lonely today; the sun is sulking behind willing clouds.

I take a walk among the dunes, my bare feet cold against the despondent sand. The hem of my skirt is lined with stray twigs and my left heel feels tender from the scratch of a broken shell.

Everywhere, your silence resonates--the breeze, the noiseless shadows, the woeful waves all echo your absence.

I stop and look at the sea, listening as it chants your name again and again and again. I am wondering how you can be nowhere and everywhere, at the same time. How is this so, Love?

There is tumult in my heart, and so I recreate the sound of your laughter and the calm in your voice. I look for comfort in the memory of your face, the fire in your eyes, the light in your smile. It is never difficult to do these things--they are what I lean to when weariness comes. My love is entwined with sadness, and no sadness has been as beautiful, no love as all-engulfing.

I have known this, all along: I have no need to look for you in things, for you are everywhere, even as you are far away. I understand that the distance that takes you away is the same one that brings you near.

But what am I doing, trying to unravel this mystery, right this very moment? After all, you are the puzzle I would like to spend the rest of my life piecing together, the question I would like to keep asking. It matters little if I never found the answer.

I need only marvel at you to understand: your soul is the light that sets my being aglow. Nothing and no one has made me feel as alive as I am now, now that you have entered my world like the ray of light that you are.

I stare at the sea, safe in the quiet and constant faith that my love will bring you home someday.

Someday, my Love.

Someday.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Nights


"Look how the stars shine so tonight, Love, see how they illuminate the darkness. We still haven't decided on our constellation, but I know that our stars are out there, somewhere, waiting for us to find them."

You stir from where you're reclined, grazing the sand with your feet. You gaze sleepily at the heavens and whisper, "it's beautiful. This is beautiful," and flash a lazy, lovely smile at me. You are exhausted from the day's work, and I am torn between tucking you to bed and staying up just for a bit more, lying on the sand like this, your hand on my arm, the sound of your breathing mingling with the sound of the waves.

I sit up and lean to kiss the tip of your nose. I trace your left brow with my thumb and run my hand over your tousled head. "That feels nice," you say, "don't stop."

"Hadn't we better get going, Love?" I wish you would say no.

"Just a bit more," you mumble, squeezing my arm and slipping a hand into mine. As always, our minds are in sync, as always, we do not want to leave the sea.

"All right, Love. But you've got to get some real rest, soon. You're not as sturdy as Superman is, though you're just as handsome, I must say."

"I am sturdy as a tree and more handsome than Superman."

I giggle. "You're hopeless, and I love you." I lean my head against your shoulder and inhale your scent, feeling the rise and fall of your chest.


Monday, January 18, 2016

All these, that's all.



Because what you have done, Love, was to gift me with the discovery that I could go so much farther and do so much more.

Did you catch a glimpse of the sea in my eyes, I wonder. Did you hear the sound of the waves in my voice? Was there sunlight in my gaze? Was it golden, like the sunrise, or muted, as dusk is?

Did you know I loved to climb trees when I was little, and that I would take a book with me to read on some sturdy branch? Were you privy to my dreams, so that you knew of the enchantment I would find underneath wisteria-wrapped bowers? Did you watch as I lay dreaming, did you see yourself in my dreams?

You were a hand that had unlocked my hidden doors--how did you know that when you entered my life, it was the perfect time to do so?

Did you know you would make me sad in so many ways, but that my losses and sorrows have made me strong enough to withstand those little waves?

Did you read between the lines of all I had written, and knew that more and more lines were lying at the tip of my pen? Did you see the unexplored distances in my eyes, terrains and woods and gardens and seas I would want to travel with you?

Did you know all these the first time you laid eyes on me?

Sunday, January 17, 2016

In your stead


I ask for nothing, my Love,

nothing.

I teach myself to map the stars, instead;
learn the language of dreams, instead;
decipher the patterns in tapestries, instead;
sink into the silence of evenings, instead;
poke my fingers at dust motes, instead;
listen to the rustle of curtains, instead;
decode the sound of raindrops, instead;
make-believe that the word "enough" is enough (instead of the illusion that it is), instead;
decrypt the litanies of forgetting, instead;
instruct my mind away from the futility of speech, instead;
adjust my vision to the farthest distances, instead;
unlearn the anguish of hope, instead;
thwart my own laughter, instead;
dream of sand and sunlight, instead;
convince myself there is value in patience, instead;
languish in skeins of words, instead;
teach myself the comforting rote of "it is what it is", instead;
subsist in waiting for I know not what, instead--cross this out--
I scream into this page, instead.

I know there is nothing, my love,

nothing.

I repeat this to myself, over
and over, I know
it by heart

ah, but my heart, you are 
my heart 

I teach myself the art of endings,
instead.

I teach myself how to write endings,
instead.






Mornings


I draw the curtains and sit on the high stool by the window, waiting for you to come home. I have tried writing almost the entire day yesterday, but have ended up deleting what paltry lines I've put down.

I am a little restless. This morning, the sound of the waves fail to soothe my nerves--I sit here, watching the sea, biting the ends of my nails, my cup of tea grown cold.

You have been gone for two days. For two days, I have not heard the door knob click open, have not heard your voice boom that "I'm home, Love!" which is music to my ears, have not been swept into your arms and smothered with your kisses, have not giggled at your jokes or laughed at your antics. I am cold from the lack of your warmth. I miss peeking through the curtains and watching you chop wood.

Two days is too long a time.

Please come home.


Daphne's Grief



I pinpoint a particular,
an exact length of time,
A blur of seconds, one
after another, and another,
and another:

Just before she disappears
into a flurry of root, trunk, branch, leaf,
and just after he stretches out his arms
to embrace the paleness
she had started to fade into--
a tightening around her heart materializes
and a river of tears gushes out,
spilling all over: all her pain,
her exhaustion, the misery of having asked
so many questions that didn't have any answers,
the grief of loving while knowing
the anguish that comes with it,
the struggle to keep at bay
the infliction that comes with wanting more,
the grief of knowing she cannot, must not want more--

that moment, dear Reader, I
bespeak you to picture yourself
in that commotion
of plea and prayer for something one can hardly
know not what, exactly, the question
that must overcome the mind
while running in a chase
that seems to have no end in sight
except loss.

A reprieve was what she must have asked for,
a deliverance in any kind, any form,
anything but the pain that is and is to be.

Understand that all these, she bears
before succumbing to the transformation
that was to be her end, and even then,
she lifts her arms in a stance

of prayer: redeem me from my fall,
deliver me.



Saturday, January 16, 2016

And because we choose not to hurt other people, we hurt ourselves, instead.

Dance


There was no music--
or was there? The music
was inside my head
like it always is when you are near.
I heard strings, and a lone trumpet
began softly cooing
when you gathered me into your arms, my cue
at sound, rhythm, movement.

My cue to extend love.

We started to sway--
by instinct? Imperceptible, at first,
tentative because that is how most of us learn dance: I remember
moving under dim lights,
the evening underway, time pushing itself
forward, and soon, goodbye,

but not yet, my Love, not yet.
I was not ready to let go
and neither were you--the story
of our lives, prayers for a little more:
a little more time, a little more you.

We flourish in agitations of hands,
grappling with minutes,
grasping moments with our palms,
despairing in low tones, muted cries and
held back tears, hidden in accepting smiles.
But not tonight.

We froze the clock's hands
and lingered in each other's skins.

Souls entwined,
we danced.




Thursday, January 14, 2016

An exercise on futility


Then why did we worship clarity,
to speak, in the end, only each other's names?
- Louise Gluck

I teach myself the mechanics
of blankness:
I put my hand over the page
where I have written down the letters
of your name
as if it were your face--

a caress over
nothing. To undo

the deed, I erase
your face. But the heart
is a trickster, and

evenings make it twice
as difficult. The lights are never bright
enough for me to see
it is not your face I am erasing
but my own clumsy handwriting.

Teach me how to make sense.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Fear


it is, and fear, it must be
that has made her summon the wind
to push her feet
ever into a run
over damp trail, thorn and leaf,
across rivulet, brook, spring,
this naiad, child of the river,
pale figure in the woods, frail except
in the chase that is to be
the beginning of her end.

For what gloriousness must he have possessed for her--
god of sunlight and truth,
music and poetry, all
that she has loved and will
love. For love,
when it overtakes us,
finds us at our weakest, exposes all
that is naked in us until, confronted
by that which we dare ask for only in dreams, we
tremble in the face of the very thing
we desire:
Possession.

And at the core of her fear lies
her soul, struggling against the promise
of redemption from being haunted
by her own shadow. There is
beauty in capture, but the heart insists
on the imminence of loss--
absolute, encompassing--
the plight of all that is beautiful,
as he is beautiful, and therefore,
may yet be her greatest
loss.

This, he does not understand--he thinks
her flight a refusal of his outstretched hand--
so that when, finally, the struggle ends (for it is written, and so it must be)
and she transforms into the magnificent myth
where the story ends,

her deliverance is from herself--
whom she most fears, not
he.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Lament


I kneel on the grass, weeding. There are no blooms to be seen, and I am a little angry at you for leaving this garden desolate. It is covered in brown leaves, fallen over all the nights you have lain, unconscious, in that scary-looking bed of yours, and you, breathing so softly as to almost be still--you have made your own garden out of those stern-looking tubes and little wires, the cold smell of medicine wafting around you like cold ether.

I pause and look at the chairs, the big tree, the empty basket, and I swallow the lump in my throat, willing the tears downward, downward. How abandoned everything looks! Where, the laughter and the conversation, where have our plans gone to?

In fact, dear friend, I am more than a little angry at you. You still owe me Prague, Paris, New York. You owe me pages and pages of stories. You owe me that autographed book in your shelf. How can you lie so still now, so changed, a stranger to all who love you? How can you be so distant from me, how can I not save you, you who once saved me?

I will pull out the weeds until my hands bleed. I will replace those tattered seat cushions with new ones--yellow, not brown. I will tend this garden until it comes back to life. I will read here everyday, dear friend, I will wait for you to come back.

Listen to all the people calling out your name in their prayers. You are so loved, so how can you lie, so still, unheeding?

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Colors


--the dark red they call Brennende Liebe,
which I find so beautiful.
- Louise Gluck

Amaranthine, the sunset, where we are. The eyes, for a moment, flicker, arrested by the sudden transitions, looking for gradation, nuance.

Capture, understand: there are no in-betweens.

But look toward the sky, now, Love, and touch that remaining light blue of forget-me-nots, for it is making way for teal, turquoise, and soon, the hour's riot of shades mimicking fire--flaxen, amber, saffron, ochre, rust. The mind conjures primroses, orange blooms. You, golden.

Next: crimson, rose, magenta. Now, a scarlet flame, and for the briefest moments, cobalt fire. But there is no cobalt in fire, you say--your voice, sapphire.

I put a finger to your lips.

Brennende liebe.

Dearest Love, a poet once wrote, and I, too, write: Dearest Love, look for my name in the sky. Trace that hint of scarlet, the color of kindling. I languish in embers. Look for my face in the sky.

Soon, evening. My silence turns from cyan to midnight blue, following you wherever, everywhere you go.


Train Station


A train station is one of the worst places for a chase. If this were a movie, the tall guy in the blue shirt knows his chances of success could be higher; as it is not, there is the sad reality of a huge, rush-hour crowd to elbow through: throngs of people determined to get to where they are going, unmindful of other possibilities aside from their own, heedless of such intangibles as the potential loss of a love some people wait their entire lives for.

The seconds he had spent hesitating now hang in the warm, congested air like silent reprimands. If he had started running the moment he had recognized her, he thinks, perhaps, he wouldn't be watching her board the train fifteen feet away from him, a tiny figure in a moving picture, rushing with the rest. A hundred memories stir inside him--sunsets, long walks, snapshots of her smiling up at him, woven dreams of tomorrow.

So there he stands, his feet cemented to the floor, his breathing as heavy as regret. The day she went away, she had told him "let me know, kiddo. And don't take too long." She didn't tell him where she was going, and he didn't ask.

For months, he had hesitated, weighing his options, having sleepless nights. He became a ghost, a hollow shell. Until one morning, he woke up and realized none of the lights wherever he was was ever as bright as when she was there. Something inside him seemed dead; he could feel a sun setting inside him everyday. Suddenly, panic, rage at himself.

Frantic, he called her number again and again and sent her e-mails everyday, ready to rise from the pool of uncertainty they had seemed to swim around forever. For years, he waited for the chance to redeem himself from indecision. She never answered his calls, never wrote back. 

And now he watches the train speed by him, past him. He says her name out loud, but the engine drowns out the sound. 




Monday, January 4, 2016

Nights


"No more drinks for you tonight," you, whispering into my ear, whisking my glass away.

"That tickles," I cower and giggle. The duo onstage is playing "Turn Your Lights Down Low" and I am feeling warm all over. Warm from the beer, the mojito, from you. "And what was that you said?" I turn sideways to look at you, rest my cheek on my hand, and gaze at your jawline. I trace it with my eyes, up to your cheek, your brows, your eyes--gold-flecked, dark pools by the dim lights of the bar. I could disappear into them. I know I would; I often do.

You smile. "I said I think you're drunk." I look at your mouth. I've always liked looking at your mouth. I know their movements, their rest.

A waitress comes by, smiling. "More drinks?"

You shake your head, "no more, thanks. Our bill, please."

"But I want another mojito," I, pouting. You kiss the tip of my nose. You don't say anything. Our check arrives and you place three money bills on the small tray. "It's time to go, Love. We don't wanna miss the moon."

"Alright." I get up, letting you lead me out of the bar. The night breeze greets us as we step into the sand, and I wrap my arms around my shoulder.

"Cold?" You pull me close, and I smell the scent of your skin--clean, familiar, a scent I know by heart.

"Hmm, you smell nice." I snuggle close to you as we walk toward the shore. Now and again, a wave crashes against another, creating a rhythm that both fascinates and comforts. Moonshine reflects on the water.

"Let's sit there," you point to a spot.

"Have you forgotten what day today is?" Your voice is low and calm.

"Today is a beautiful day," I murmur  sleepily, lulled by the sound of the sea, enchanted to a stupor by the moonlight. I am watching the waves, wondering if you are, too.

You laugh. "Years ago, we pulled an all-nighter and shared a fluffy blanket underneath the stars. Tonight was when I finally gathered the guts the tell you how I felt."

I break loose from being nestled in the crook of your arm and turn around to look at you. "But that was eons ago! And you once confessed you only got around to teeling me because I told you I had been having dreams about you, for some unexplained reason."

I smile at the memory. I lean back against your chest, listening to your heartbeat, reliving all the fumbling and trembling and shyness of that night.

"You keep forgetting I have the combined memory of five brilliant men," you laugh and kiss the top of my head.

"Bah, humbug. You didn't seem so sure of yourself then, and I was wracking my brains for what could have possessed the Mr. Swagger I knew that he seemed so uncertain, all of a sudden. I could taste your fear then, do you know?"

You brush your thumb along my forearm. "But here we are, Love. Here we are."

I am a little surprised by your thoughtful, mellow mood. You seldom have them and I wish you'd have them more often. "And all that week, you seemed so happy and so sad, both at the same time. I had to keep telling you--this love is what it is, this love is what it is, this love is what it is--until I knew the words by heart and could recite them in my sleep."

You wrap your arms tighter around me. "I believed you, then. I just wasn't so sure I believed in myself. I am full of questions--always have been."

"I know," I say, "but see, Love, asking never leads anywhere except to more questions. Sometimes, we just have to let things be. Just feel, just be. Don't you think that makes one more alive than asking and seeking? The universe conspires to let happen the things that happen and will happen. I mean--did it even occur to you that we would meet, at all, before we  saw each other for the first time?"

"I know. I learned that from you. It takes courage to surrender to the air. I have never been good at letting go--I need to grab everything by the horns."

"Yeah, that's why you used to throw fits of rage so often and that's why you would keep talking about being in between rocks and hard places and advocating Murphy's Law." I pinch your arm and you laugh. "But anyway, there's one thing I'm sure I will never, ever learn," I look up at you and tickle your chin.

"And what's that?"

I turn my gaze back to the sea. "I don't think I will ever learn how to let you go."

Splashing waves, the strains of a guitar, a friendly breeze blowing. "It's not as if I didn't try. I practiced, everyday, in case you didn't know, long before I was even aware I was thinking of you much more often than I should. But I never figured out how--even my books couldn't teach me that."

"I'm glad you failed miserably. Otherwise, you wouldn't be in my arms right now, sharing this sea with me."

"I wish this night could go on forever."

We both turn quiet, and I'd like to think our minds are meeting somewhere, in this hour, one.

Somewhere in my soul, rapture. Gratefulness fills me and I whisper a prayer into the sea, for handing you over to me, if only for this moment.

Above us, the moon glows bright and silent, illuminating the sky with its gentle light.





Sunday, January 3, 2016

Afternoons


"Ahoy, Captain!"

I do not budge from the book I'm reading, but from behind my dark glasses, I watch you run toward where I'm sitting.

I trace your leanness with my eyes, drink in the length of your strides, your legs reminding me of the sleek lines of sports cars. You are squinting at the sun, and just at this moment, you are the personification of adorable perfection--a man-boy, naked to the waist, dripping with saltwater, gleaming in the sunlight.

"Effin hunk," I mutter under my breath, my concentration now completely ruined.

"What was that, Captain?" You swoop down to kiss me.

"Ahoy yourself," I dismiss you with a wave of my hand. You slump into the chair beside mine and start shaking the water off your hair and arms.

"If you so much as ruin my book with all that water, you're gonna have to get me a new one."

"Cranky, cranky," you snatch my book from my hand.

"But that's a Hemingway!"

"I'll get you two of these, my Love," you laugh and toss the book to the sand. "From this point, no more reading. It'll be sunset soon, let's go for a walk."

I shake my head and reach for the cooler. "Here, have a beer first. You look like you need one."

"Thanks, Love." You take off the cap and take a swig, and I watch you from lowered lids--head tilted back, the lines on your neck and jaw sculpted to perfection, droplets of water glistening on your skin. You look like some sun-kissed deity come to grace my world with your presence. My breath catches and I groan.

"I know, I know," you wink and grin, "I am very good-looking."

"Shut up and kiss me," I mumble, and you do. My world stops turning, for a moment.

"Walk, Love?" You take my hand and I oblige.

Soon, we are walking along the shore, the sound of crashing waves enveloping us. My hand is in yours and I sigh, content, thinking how all this is more than I have ever asked for. Once in a while, I would stop to curl my toes in the sand. You have made me fall in love with beaches and sunlight, you have made me fall in love with water.

"Do you remember the first time we did this?" You look at me, smiling.

"Yes, Love, I do," I glance back at you. "Something like that wouldn't be so easy to forget. That beautiful blue, that strip of sand. I wanted that walk to go on forever, though I was still too shy to tell you that. I mean, how could I have known you were already planning to sweep me off my feet that time?" I giggle. You make me giggle.

"Well, we could take long walks forever," you squeeze my hand. "We can go to all the beaches in the world and walk along each shore."

One of the things I love about you is that you never fail to surprise me--the things you do and say, all these bursts of sweetness. Changing from straight lines to undulating ones, teaching me invoices one moment, dreaming of sunsets, the next. You are so many wonderful things wrapped in skin, sinew, muscle.

"I like that plan," is all I say.

Distant music reaches my ears. "Look, Love, dancing!" I grab your arm and start heading for the bar to our right.

You stop me in my tracks. "Yes, Love, dancing. But later." You turn me toward you and put your hands around my waist. "Can I just tell you something first?" I feel my heart start to race as you look at me with those lovely, lovely eyes, eyes that mirror starlight and all things beautiful in this universe.

"Love," you say, tightening your hold on my waist and brushing your lips on my forehead, "such a tiny, tiny thing you are."

"Bummer!" I shout, laughing, and break lose from your hands. "You stay there and talk to the waves, I'm going dancing!"

I lift my skirt and start to run, laughing. You catch up on me and we head for the bar, holding hands.

Behind us, the sky begins to change colors. Twilight is waiting around the corner.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Sonnet XVII

- Pablo Neruda

I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way

than this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.

Evenings


The soft lights of blue lamps lend our surroundings a peaceful, muted glow. Hours ago, the place was alive with sound--tinkling glass, laughter, conversations in low tones, a soft syncopation of forks hitting plates, jazz in the background--contained energy, all in all.

The lights were orange, then.

It was your idea: sunlight in the morning, orange lights in the afternoon, a blue glow for when evenings come. "To simulate the changing lights of the day, Love, to steal just a little magic from creation," was what you said when you came up with the plan, a few years back. You, whom I thought ate logic and numbers for dinner, you who snacked on facts, timelines, data. Who would have thought you knew poetry? I may have seen it in your eyes, at some point, or another, but this--this loveliness is all from you.

I remember you startling me by quoting Shelley, once.

We have closed shop half an hour ago, it is 10:33. Now it is just you and I, and the fairy dust in this blue glow has mingled with the wine you've poured into my glass, making me feel lightheaded, awake and dreaming, even as I watch you take a sip from your wine, your eyes on mine, watching me, watching you.

"Put on Miles, Love," I hear myself saying.

Soon, "It Never Entered My Mind" fills the air. Soon, your arms are around my waist, my arms are wrapped around your neck, and we are swaying gently, gently to a cooing trumpet, a piano, soft cymbals. I lean my left cheek to your chest and you brush your lips against my temple. The music floats around, wrapping us, and I think of tenderness, think of the color blue, of tears all behind us, of warm breakfasts, of walks on the beach, of guitar strains, of sunsets, of moon-glow, of starlight. I feel your heart, beating.

"Let's get you to bed, Love," you, whispering, freeing my hair from its clasp. I feel your hands running up, down my back, and I bury my face into your shirt. "Five minutes," I say, "just five more minutes."

I am exhausted and tipsy, but I want this moment stretched into as far as it could be stretched. The wine, the music, and your nearness have all gone to my head, and I close my eyes. I mumble the lines of a sonnet, mixing up the words, my memory faltering a little, my voice trailing off. You touch the small of my back and I grow weak. I let myself. I feel no worry, no fear when you are with me.

Outside, the night deepens. Moonbeams reflect calmly on still surfaces.






Thursday, December 31, 2015

Lament


Stay the heart that rages in its cage, furious in its muteness. Desire

is fluid, doing all that water does: simmer and rise to heights,  wash over, pull back, let go, drown. Along

the fringes of a dream, reality waits. I smooth back the blurred edges and stay, stay, stay in the center. Where you are. Somewhere, sometime, I will lose you. But

not yet, Love. Not yet. Understand

this: I did not ask, but was given, and what was given to me, I now hold close. My palm

clutches like it will never let go. As if water can be contained forever by human fingers, as if I could tempt fate into submission. I grasp

you, my cupped hands growing weak at the pull of a hundred tomorrows. Yesterday

I sat beside you and was swept in a tide of sadness. Wave after wave, they came, washing

upon my shores, taking, piece by piece, my resolve to be fixed, as a stone is, as this moment

is not. This moment is seeping through gaps where I thought I was gapless. On the crest of a wave, I break

into shrapnels of soul. I am washed

to your shore. Know this: wherever you are is where I am--impalpable because I will it; content because I have known

what loss is like. I pin loss and clarity together because I can. While

I still can. I teach myself

patience. It is what will stay the heart that rages

in its cage while you are where

you are.

Mornings


I lean on the wooden counter and rest my cheek against my palm. There is accounting to be done--the year is about to end--but I would rather just watch you right now.

You are standing by the doorway, talking to the handyman, discussing woodwork. Long-limbed and golden, you are a god come to life from my favorite myths, as far as I'm concerned. Now you are the mortal you have decided to become, making arrangements for your coffee shop, making sure everything is in order, surveying your turf with your quick eyes, your astute mind taking note of what ever is not in place.

I glance at my little notebook and cringe at the numbers--I decide I would have you do it and giggle as I picture you, your eyebrows furrowing a little as you say, "but Love, I have shown you this so many times--this is how you reconcile the figures." And you will show me again and end up doing it yourself, all the while reprimanding me at my insistence on notebooks and pens. Yes, that is my plan of action, fail-proof and cute. And I can almost be sure you've already done what you're asking me to do--you simply want me to practice my Math. Numbers and I--we dislike each other. Immensely.

I look up and see you walking towards me, smiling. My heart melts, yet again, for the thirteenth time today. How can you be so handsome at 7 in the morning? I decide I will spend the day just looking at you. Or, not.

I return to my notebook and pretend I am writing something down. "How's it going, Love? I saw Mr. B-- outside today and he said the new coffee we're serving is tops."

"Well, it's supposed to be--it's a little more expensive than our usual stuff."

You nod. "That's ok. Expensive can be good." Laughter. "Remember we're closing early today. Need to whip up something nice tonight." That lopsided grin of yours--I could kiss you right about now.

"Yeah, sounds good to me," I, trying to steady my beating heart. I think it's a little crazy, my still having a crush on you. You have cooked dinner every night for me for the past 6 years and my knees still grow weak at your nearness. My books weren't lying when they said some loves last longer than others. But back to work. You distract me so.

You lean over and ask, "any progress, so far?"

I purse my lips. "A little, yeah."

You fish the notebook from my hand. You look at the page I was writing on, frown, and run your thumb along your jaw. "Hmm. A stick figure and lots of doodles. I think you make a charming accountant. Is this supposed to be me?"

I shrug. "Of course that's you, who else can it be? I studied you this morning and decided to paint you."

You shake your head. "Boy, oh boy. I am handsome."

I roll my eyes and snatch the notebook from you. "Stop smirking and go ask that nice little man over there what he needs. He's been looking under his table for the past 5 minutes."

"Yes, Ma'am," you wink at me and walk away. Smiling, I bend over to pick up a scrap of paper that has fallen to the floor, and decide I will go out to buy flowers. Mums, perhaps, and pink Gerbera daisies.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Finger Exercise

Begin with alliteration. For example: flickering firelight, tentative tenderness, shivering shorelines, preempt this predicament, cling to comeuppance, feline feelings, hapless hunger, wanton wanting, cloven clocks.

Begin with: caress as a caveat, primal as prelude, dance, darling, do, climax to the clandestine, fall from fastenings, culminate in crying. Bristle, break, bruise.

Alphabetize: decry, demand, desecrate, desire, desolate, despair, desultory.

Forget assonance--it is imperative that I infer nothing from these impressions of impetuousness. Impossibilities inspire inevitabilities.

Start anew with simile: you are like the word luminous; you and I are like two erstwhile distant lights touching, parting, touching again; my heart, like something--anything--about to burst at the seams; you, as near to me as someone--anyone--in the next room. That room is always locked, like something--anything--marked restricted.

Linger in metaphor: I would like to sink in you, I would like to swirl in you, I would like to drown in you; we were one in a parallel universe--here, we are parallel lines; you gather me in your fist and I submit; help me reach those heights, Love, I am in flight with your wings; you are the word luminous; we clasp and become a single flame.

End the way things always end: pictures that blur, edges that tear, breathlessness, a gaze, a question, a word, a tree.

Look, my Love, I have written you a story.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Unpacking Sydney


In journeys
we are completely at the mercy, not of memory but of the road 
we take, which carries us across moonlit worlds and skins
at the same time that it waylays and alters us within.

- From "Orpheus and Eurydice" by J. Neil C. Garcia

It is time to unpack.

You fumble with the zipper, lift the suitcase's cover, and out come the streets of Sydney: the non-intrusive drone of cars breezing past you as you walk down a busy side street, people's arms lightly grazing yours, a mumbled "sorry" or "excuse me" as men and women rush to work under a benign morning sun, gazing down at you as you make your way to the office, with Jessey walking beside you, talking animatedly about the evening before, the both of you wondering what time Rolly and Bo will arrive and if they will ever arrive before you do, what sort of ice cream Pionna will buy today, or will Vin be frowning before his laptop, preoccupied with a phone call, and what dish Cy will whip up for dinner. You remember telling the girl at the counter, "one latte with three sugars, please, and a Coke for my friend." Geraldine said to try it with two, instead, because any more packs won't make a difference. You remember saying, "but I like my coffee sweet," when Phil expressed some barely concealed surprise at how much sugar you put in your coffee. Craig, marching in, turns the lights on and says, "good morning, everyone!"

You pause and smile. Ah, Sydney mornings.

Will you ever make progress with your task, with all these memories coming at you like sudden bursts of sunshine?

You resume, taking out a trip to the beach. And another, and yet one more. You run your hands over memories of sun, magnificent blue, shouts of glee, murmurs of delight, the sound of camera shutters, butter pecan and banana ice cream, people milling, strewn across wide expanses of sand, pink and green cocktails. A pack of beers, warm coffee. You remember the feel of the sand, warm against your toes as you sit on a smooth, grey stone and watch the waves crash against boulders, and you bottle up the beautiful sound that they make, the wondrous sight that it is. You remember a cold wind blowing patiently to and fro, and you shiver a little at the memory of shivering, sway a little at the memory of being swayed by the gusts, warm up a little when you remember the long walk to the other side of the beach and all the other memories that come with it: friendly chatter, harmless banter, exclamations of wonder at how all these will be but memories later, laughter over blackbirds, clumsy attempts at transforming into poetry the fugitive sand that has found its way into thighs and--

You laugh and laugh some more. You are lucky to have been with the best companions you could ever have had. You sigh and wonder how unpacking could be so difficult.

You shut the suitcase and place it back in a corner. The unpacking will have to be done another time, when you are farther removed from all these memories, and less inclined to zone out.

You daydream about the beach, instead.

Mornings


We open at six o'clock.

You are always up hours before, and you always have to pull--carry--me out of bed and I, still warm from your kisses, would groan and mutter, "you have dragged me out of a delicious dream." I often dream. Of water and trees, sunlight and moonshine, you.

You smile that wonderful smile of yours, your smile that still renders my insides weak, still bewitching after all these years. I smile sleepily back and start to fold back into the sheets, if not for your tender admonition of "wake up, Love. Wake up."

Ah, yes, the cafe. The customers will soon trickle in. Breakfast will have to wait.

We are tucked in a street corner, beside a bake shop whose smells of warm bread waft into our open doors. Our unspoken partnership has invited more patrons into this spot than we had cared to expect, the only part of the city that has cobbled streets. 

I had been particular about cobbled streets, as much as I had been about the orange gabled roof you had asked the builders to so carefully put into place. I gaze happily at it as you earnestly pull up the red and white awnings, and I look at you, grateful for indulging my wish for an old English look. You look at me and say, "time to work, Love," and I roll my eyes, mumble a "yes, Boss," and laugh. You tousle my hair and kiss me on the cheek. A neighbor waves hello, and we wave back. 

You scoop me up into your arms and walk into the cafe. I bury my face in your neck, thinking of our fig tree.



Saturday, December 26, 2015

Daphne, Descending


Descending from your flight to madness, still shaky from the breathlessness of the tempest, you step down and plant your feet firmly on palpable ground. 

The air pauses in its billowing, the heart trembles, sighing, for a little while, still hopeful, still wondering: where things are found and held--could it have been where you were to have been found, and held, at last?

Is this where the hapless, aimless chase ends?

Somewhere,  a clearing.  Nearby, a promise. From the soul, a hunger, inchoate. The longing to stay. 

Oh, to stay. 

But the breeze turns, unannounced--a host of forebodings arrive, whirring with the wind, and the time for trembling, sighing, closes in, like all days do. To love so fiercely is to invite pain in; to love so madly is to lose yourself.

But it was so still in that last second, so still! How a moment--certain moments--can alter time so.

Still, the feet, reluctant, spring into a run. Gently, at first, then swiftly, as always. Only this time, questions weigh the mind, the heart down, willing the eyes to turn toward directions other than forward.

But that slice of brilliance, so lovely and luminous--

Run. Let the broken heart propel you forward, only forward, always forward. Step on those clocks, crush them with your pain. Summon your strength and keep your eyes where they should be--away, away. Light foot, you are good at this.

Run.