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 things are the closest thing 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
his flip-flops squeak as he waddles down the hall. before he reaches the end of the hall, where our floor’s shared bathrooms are, he peers at the staircase and watches me trudge up the steps.
“hiya!” he exclaims. he pauses at the top of the steps. i smile politely.
“how are you?” he asks. i haven’t seen him since i moved into the apartment building, which was five months ago. i respond with a generic, “i’m good. how are you doing?” he ignores my question. instead he replies, “you work, right?”
“what is it that you do, exactly? the landlord told me you were a counselor.”
i am shocked by his abruptness. i vaguely tell him that i’m not a counselor–i’m actually an americorps volunteer.
i ask him, “how about you, what is it that you do?” i am still a little stunned by his forwardness.
“have a good night!” he answers, and waddles over to the restrooms.
i need to be the one doing the questioning.