It was only now,
way too many years after
it should matter,
that I thought to call him
by that name: my abuser
back then he was merely
a painful puzzle
with rusty knife edges,
an intriguing man who
could love me so hard
it felt like my bones would
break right off the joints
with just one look
half of the time
while the rest of the time
look at me like a substance
he was getting ready to burn
just to see whether I was
made of ash or liquid air
and even his anger
was inscrutable; his voice
would change when he shouted
and he grabbed at metaphors
as if to stab himself with them.
It wasn’t poetry.
Being with him was a
confusing run-on sentence,
oftentimes he’d use parts of me
like misplaced Scrabble tiles
or verbs diluted in his Red Bull.
Once, I took too long to get out
of class, it made him so mad
he had to do me right there
on the Fairview-Alabang bus,
on the way home. I closed my eyes
when the conductor passed the aisle
because I couldn’t cover myself
and I wonder now what he knew.
Did it look like I was enjoying it
or could he maybe see that my world
had been reduced to a place smaller
than that bus, more filled with
assorted noise, and completely
at the mercy of a driver whose
hands only moved in two motions?
And I was so glad when it was
over, because it meant I had
done good, he wasn’t mad
anymore, and the love would
climb back into his heart before
we pulled into the terminal. Both
the driver and the conductor were
staring when we disembarked.
I felt their eyes finding faults
in my clothes. I wonder if they
noticed the six-days-old bruise
just peeking from under my right
sleeve, or if I wanted them to.
And could they hear that my body
was not done screaming, even
though my eyes were empty.
(First Semester, AY 2004-2005)
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