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poem /t de los reyes

Updated: Apr 2, 2023



They said it was three-thirty in the morning last July the day a hummingbird ate the iris. I am trying to listen to the news but there is nothing to care about other than the hot bolt of desire for the universe to remain unfinished. I wanted to be dipped in the blue sky, which finally appeared today at two in the afternoon. Look at my roof, cracked open like a skull after a typhoon, like a fork tapped ungently against an egg. I picked up the bough that took miles and years to get here—a small width of time and memory.


Do you remember the old woman who once mapped the pressure points on your back, as if constellations, as if a lonely pianist at a jazz bar. You said it’s been quite a while since someone touched you that way, and I think of the clouds moving past the mountains like smoke rising, a fire finally put out. We are two cups turned upside down in the dish drainer, undecided if we should get coffee or therapy or erase the memory of each other’s skin and the bodies they cover, vessels of regret.


See the tiny hairs that lead me to your elbow to the slope of your shoulder to the tiny mole below your ear. They say light can appear brighter in the centre of a star. They say the sea is the only other body that can swallow us whole. Sometimes I lie awake thinking if you’ll be able to find me in the dark, knowing just what you know. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll be able to find you.


I went back to the old woman. I asked, how do you ward off the evil spirits at midnight. See, I dreamt about birds, the holiness and sadness of clipped wings and fragmented bones. I have since measured the distance between three seconds and five hours, and it makes me wish I have a vase full or irises for you to devour.


There are two things fish are beholden to: the silence and the cold. I think about that as I contemplate how much damage a kiss can do in a single day versus the rest of my life. Would that I can offer words at the altar of everything I’ve ruined. The arm of the record player is broken; it ticks again and again like the muscle on your cheek.


Most of us are destined to do one incredible thing in life. I could only clean myself of myself. A bird flies past the balcony, an errant thought. Its path perhaps a dangerous proposition. Look up, the rain is now inside my house, and soon thunder, and soon flood. It takes so long to get to you, the petals have melted in the warm belly of the deep dark and you are lovely, as ever, a small wing.


Poet and designer T. De Los Reyes is the author of Woeman (Hawai’i Review, 2018). She was a finalist for the 2021 Sappho Prize by Palette Poetry. Her poems have previously appeared or are forthcoming in Crazyhorse, Pleiades, Split Lip Magazine, West Trestle Review, Cordite Poetry Review, Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, Rabbit Catastrophe Review, The Philippine Free Press, and The Philippine Graphic, among others. She lives and writes in Manila, Philippines.

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