sotto voce comments always critical
sorting through piles of prose and poem with
my half-formed mind,
my insecurities showing; but I didn't know.
Once written seems set,
kept as testament to what I thought then,
kept as proof of my shrinking heart to a broadening horizon
- and all that I want to say
hidden malice, heavy guilt
the driving urge to confess dark deeds -
once written once shown
not mine any longer to own
and too raw it's out there
have to be careful what slips
when writing tired and frustrated,
dangerous yet so tempting.
But streams and burbles,
words and phrases and ideas and song;
conversations overheard, or heard in my head
sing to me a story dying to be read
written now in snatches of near-sleep,
gone by morn.
Soup of song,
mixed pot of sounds and rhyme
made up make believe a maybe reality,
mind overtime on a dreamer's dreams
too soft or loud for human scribble
on cheap store bought lined paper -
but I'll try all the same,
try and try again;
Tiny wings sizzling to ash,
a talentless hack.
At three, I was too small for the barre.
The compromise was an ugly plastic stool,
and hope to one day reach the horizontal rod -
there, they stretched upwards with one leg
five fingers delicately curled inwards,
cupping invisible lotus blossoms.
I had less than ten lessons,
and one magical afternoon in the dark
watching my teacher dance onstage.
Maybe there's grace still within me,
long lost in eyes of wonder,
noisy cymbal clash of a Chinese opera song.
urn (it saves space)
I would cry
if I knew how to,
I don't remember what it's like.
There isn't enough grief in a world like mine
to try again.
We have buried my grandmother in a small urn
under a porcelain horse, under dirt;
somwhere in our quiet hearts.
I dig up her memory whenever I mourn -
no longer for her after this time,
but she is there when I mourn all the same.
There isn't anyone else, as alive
as she; and we never say her name,
though we talk of things past.
are not my baby:
which kicked strong
against the hardened ballooning curve
of my stomach;
whose heart pounded
frighteningly loud, drums bass rhythm in one
through stethoscope tubing;
who charmed strangers
unseen, and caused grandmothers to knit tiny boots,
like woollen fertility sacrifices.
No, you are not it.
With only three months to go,
some mischief-making sprite
has heard my fearful wishes,
has left you in its place -
a lifeless corpse drowned,
floating in my reluctant womb.
There was this boy
We were just friends,
really good friends,
He would ring me from work
when it was his lunch hour
and say, You wouldn't believe
the idiots I've talked to today!
(because he was help desk, see.)
He'd do funny voices to match
and we'd laugh and giggle through
fifteen minutes to an hour,
until my mum would pass by with a puzzled,
frazzled, look and wave at the clock.
Then I'd say, hey I gotta go -
ring me tomorrow, k?
And he'd answer me with his teenage apathy tone,
but we did the same thing the next day,
and the day after, and after that,
for two weeks straight.
There was a night
after a party. He drove.
It was late, minutes left 'til twelve
but neither of us wanted to go home.
I couldn't ask him in, of course -
we weren't dating or anything like that.
He said, Do you want
to just sit here and talk?
I said, Mm, yeah. So tell me -
We sat in his car with the lights hout,
by the side of the road three streets from my house,
talking of the nothing that was everyday life
until after one, until my parents rang
frantic to know where I was.
I sidestepped their questions,
said I was on my way, five minutes only.
And I was.
He was hot for one of my friends.
I knew this because he confided so,
right after we started hanging out.
I asked him once, What do you
like about her?
He gave me a sliding glance, and muttered
something I couldn't catch.
I teased him another time,
Hey man, why don't you
talk to her for once, huh?
He snorted, and, looking vexed he said,
But I don't have anything
in common with her -
I can't talk to her at all.
Then he changed the topic,
and we chattted on.
We didn't bring her up again.
Except once more, the last time. Late that year,
she turned him down, laughed him down;
and he came to me to rage,
as he had for nine months previously -
telling me his hopes, his personality,
with worries and snide comments and sweet jokes.
He was in a snit over her,
he asked me, Don't you think
she dresses like a slut?
And I could only stare at him,
then look over his shoulder to my friend,
her slim body in a singlet top as ever.
I said, I can't say
He glared at me with those dark eyes
I secretly thought were lovely,
and pressed his lips thin.
We didn't talk anymore after that,
for a year -
not really, not in the way
back when I knew his week in perfect detail,
and he could recite my timetable.
Now we just waved at each other's smiling face,
and faked punches in a crowd for laughs -
now it was all for show.
Months went by without much word.
One day we found ourselves
laughing freely at each other's jokes
over a lunch with mutual friends.
In the sunshine after
I called out impulsively to his retreating back,
Hey! Give me your number,
it's been a while, let's catch up.
He turned around gracefully,
lean shoulders shrugging.
He said, What do we
have left to say?
There was this boy
We were really good friends.