i used to warm my hands by you,
a fireplace. it was easy to forget that fire burns
from up close. i rationalized my burns as
markers of intimacy–once, I felt my hands
burn into ashes, and the pain warmed
your absence. remnants of me mingled with
memories of you and
i almost forgot about loneliness
a 6 foot tall young man squints at the camera.
wispy brown hair frames his sun burnt face
and his thick moustache, as coarse a broom,
sits upon his lips. he wears a white polo shirt
and baggy blue jeans. sandals with socks.
his gut hangs over his belt. he is my father.
beside him is my mother. she is brown like almonds
and has puffy hair like lucille ball. she is a petite woman,
and her smile overwhelms her face. burgundy lipstick
shines her lips. she wears an oversized sweatshirt
with an enamoured taz and his wife–mrs. taz playfully
responds in bold, yellow letters–oh, you devil!
they are fearless. confident about tomorrow.
the world is moving and they are the only ones
standing still. they are young and in love.
your llantos desesperados echo in a barren desert
trying to find someone who will listen.
you pause at the sound of an awakening–
there is a rumbling beneath the yellow sands.
lizards, scorpions, and snakes burrow in the sand dunes;
cacti recoil into the blankets of sand;
the soft whistling winds shrink back into the sky.
the sands tell me you are gone.
i pretend i don’t know how.
you bring out the monster in me.
in the abyss of my subconscious,
where dreams and nightmares and reality are indistinguishable
i watch the desert swallow you whole. you disintegrate
into the mounds of hot sand, pleading a subdued sun
we are hanging by a thread.
that’s what this feels like–
so fragile, like the first time you hold a newborn.
mesmerized by the baby’s trusting eyes,
the thin pink gums without teeth,
the milky smell. there is promise of
companionship, milestones–a future.
but we forget that these moments are fleeting.
we want to pause and savor them in photos,
letters, and little gifts. we are ephemeral,
but these objects are the closest grasp we have
to immorality. to keeping innocent promises.
we look back and
remember the frailness of it all.
your absence echoes confusion and clarity
in my head. our love felt so real that
i didn’t notice its fragility; petty arguments
crumbled compassion and
mistrust clouded understanding.
the echo deepens until i envision the cosmos,
where dead stars whisper riddles that are
the secrets of life. the echo throbs and
i meditate over our past, hoping to decipher
a riddle on love, a riddle on our truth.
the riddle melts into the strings of constellations
and weaves itself into the empty fabric of
our night sky. in its emptiness,
i almost forgot to remember–
i am free.
alki beach is crowded today. shirtless men
are softened by the sun as they
play volleyball and
children race to the edge of the ocean,
squealing as puget sound waters
lick their toes. at the beach’s center, however,
there is a stillness.
a woman faces the shore, her long black hair and
red paisley-print pants ruffled by
the impassioned breeze,
her black crop top exposing a finely wrinkled stomach.
a baby is on her hip, pointing and giggling at seagulls
as she smokes the cigarette that was gifted by
she stands, immobilized in time.
Amá always said she saw spirits.
they were everywhere–even en el rancho,
in between the cacti and rivers that coiled
around mi abuelo’s bright orange home. even in
los estados unidos, en el este de los ángeles
as light and fleeting as memory. los espíritus
are everywhere, the past creeping up like
ivy on a barbed wire fence, begging for