we make the same shelf
i on one end
and you on the other
there are stories wedged in between us
their pages bursting with
words of love, loss, and longing
and pressed between those
are s p a c e s
that are all so silent and
yet so loud —
all of them make you seem so far away.
i won’t ask you to cut off
whatever part of you
you think is excessive
just so we’re the same shape
you know, i like the strips of crumpled paper
peeling off your cheeks
and the drops of dreary paint
spilling from your eyes
i like the crooked curve of your smile
and the stray slanted lines
of your shoulders, arms, and hands.
i am all smooth surfaces and soft, blurred edges you see —
my chest, waist, legs, feet —
and a palette of pastel colors
i wear on my head
the paint — mild pinks, yellows, peaches —
woven into the strands of my wavy hair.
but maybe if we put together these incongruities
fold, press, pat
place it on the wall
and take a little step back
we will be surprised to see
a beautiful piece of art
we could call Us.
for tj – a post script for these two poems, something that took me years, roughly four years, to put here.
sorry. mine was just a case of making a myth out of someone. seeing just the figure without really looking at the person. i know you’ll get that.
thank you. for every kind and good word.
you know i always wish you all the pages in the world.
Anatomy of a Room
So you stand in the room for a while, looking at the sunlight brightening and fading on the ceiling. Think about him leaving the week before, and how bare his room is now: the unfaded squares on the wall where his posters had been, the naked mattress on the floor, a curve in the middle when the springs had begun to fail. Coat hangers in the wardrobe rattling like skeletons, a red splash of nail polish you once spilled on the loose floorboards, a muted notice board on the desk where the creased, beaten map pimpled with push pins on places you dreamt of visiting used to be, a paper light shade he’d taken down, forgotten, folded on the floor like a deflated balloon, and you, standing among all the things he left behind, unable to fit into the boxes he’d squeezed into his car when he drove away. You almost tried to fold yourself into something smaller just so you could fit into the available spaces. There is impenetrable silence, a faint sheet of dust has settled into every trace of him. And so you open the window to get some air into the room, and a burst of noise rushes in ̶ traffic, and children shouting, faraway music blaring in the speakers, and birdsong from somewhere up on the roof, a thin twitter that creeps and tangles in with all the other sounds. You shift your attention back to the deserted scene inside, and wait for a knock that doesn’t come.
Hillary Mae Bucao, BSEd English IV-A
p.s. to you S, my then favorite bullshitter
The years have molded like a bundle of yellowed letters,
like an outgrown dress the color of sunflowers stashed at the back of the closet,
like old, rusty pickling jars she used to poke holes into
so the ladybugs she collected inside them could breathe. Not knowing
That some things were best left to roam free ̶
There were long, lazy days that played hide and seek,
Climbed walls, swung in trees
She liked walking barefoot, her toes
kissing fresh grass
All the scrapes on the knees, little
cuts and bruises on tender
forehead and chin
of worlds she has wandered in ̶
Carefully crafted santan chains
Adorning tiny wrists and twig-like fingers
Weaving through messy, sun-bleached hair
She gets up stumbling,
Golden air fills her lungs as her light heart of mirth breaks
Loose in the wind
Chasing after butterflies
into the open sky that glow sweet golden mango
And the child, she used to build
homes with mud and stones
Gathered sturdy branches to bind,
She was always yearning for
something bigger than herself than
she was able to find.
Hillary Mae Bucao, BSEd English IV-A
for Echoes of the Heart poetry reading
an ode to childhood