temp

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.

waiting

i look for you everywhere:
online, on the metro, at the corner store,
outside my house, where i saw you last.

it is midnight and i still look. i check outside the window,
beyond the door, on my phone–i don’t see you. i
keep looking not knowing if you want to be found.

i surrender to the ease of my bed sheets.
the smell of you lingers
on an old pillow and
i find you

the little choices

we sit at the oversized, red-toned mahogany table a salesman pressured you into buying. you have never admitted this to me.

my sister recounted the transaction, while you were showering. you were on the hunt for a sturdier, slightly larger table than the plastic black one you had. it wobbled when you put down a cazuela, so no, it wouldn’t do.

and, at a thrift store, this tall, reddish brown table caught your eye. the reflection of the spinning ceiling fan on its glossy tabletop hypnotized you. however, it was too large for the studio apartment. it wouldn’t do, you mumbled.

a lurking salesman noticed your lustful gaze and offered you a price. you shared that you were interested, but that it wouldn’t fit. how would you even take it home? it’s just too large. he said not to worry–he’d bring it to you and set it up for free. you politely declined. he insisted.

you both are at the apartment. you’re sitting on the couch, with your legs crossed, sipping an iced coke while he’s kneeling beside the table, piecing it together. he makes small talk. the weather is lovely. you are lovely. do you only have one daughter? she’s awfully quiet. is her mouth sewn shut? people must walk all over her.

you agreed with him. you wished aloud that she were more outgoing, talkative, and confident.

my sister watched you in silence.

she says you didn’t want this table, but at least you got to choose it. choosing is important to you. you remind us that our dad never let you pick anything that went on the walls. he never let you select furniture. he never let you choose.

you chose this bulky table, and you’re keeping it.

paper

you’re that detached, controlling lover,
whose eyes follow me everywhere
and remind me that i need you. i wish
that i didn’t have to rely on you so much,
and that i could make decisions without
consulting you. you warn me that to keep our
relationship steady, i need to make sacrifices.
i need to think about us.

late at night, this makes sense to me.
you’re everything, but you’re nothing.
you’re money.

the quiet

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.

one

we can only respect our cultures
when they respect our women.
the rugged path they paved with womens’ bones
is lit by orbs that hold dreams they forced us to forget–
dreams in which limits only came from our fears
and not systemic cages and structural, inevitable dead ends
where men stand in the dark like vampires who use glamour
to feign trust and to illustrate humanity’s tenderness.
forced to walk barefoot on this path, the stones sting
like cigarette burns and pierce like
coerced body art at a tattoo parlor; right before
her tattoo session she screams that
she refuses to go down this aisle with that pale man
she’s run away from in her dreams
because in her dreams she awoke to a man’s
fate tattooed on her collarbone. she chants that
she is no one’s keeper, she is no one’s anything
but her own.