Chrysalis

Not surrounded, but a part of me
that I intimately know and cherish
folding into a fist of which my
flesh is part, not imprisoned.
A dense and opaque darkness
of my own making, half
destruction, half waiting.
Out of instinct I had not allowed
a space for voices, only change.
Here, the past is weightless
and the future can’t exist.
There’s a promise that it will
emerge beautiful, but there are
so many things that could go
wrong outside in my absence.
Breaths come as pauses;
the process grows impatient.
The process is me. I am
the undulating, the weeping
on the bridge between new and
old, the temptation of ending
versus fighting to occupy
a place larger than this.

It requires so much pain.

While My Springtime Sleeps

It must be something deeper
than a good thing that
no longer holds

an extinguished morning
parading its remnants
of colors like a robe
whose only virtue left
is dignity,
the weight of history,
the tangerines and mulberries
no longer as vibrant and
their edges blurring,
the cranes tired of
kissing the sky, the sky
tired of holding the stars

and all the battles fought
read like poems
written by the victors,
the pearls harvested from
the shells, now empty.
I have to think of a name
for that different hunger,

mesh of extra fine wire
between myself and the world,
here, where love has evolved
into print on brocade
of converted summers
and waiting,
beauty all lined up
on daily dusted shelves.

You Miracle

It’s OK if you don’t find it right away,
the bridge that allows that song
you’ve carried as a temporary response
to the hunger, to cross over to that
coveted beauty that in the brutally
truthful nights only appear as illusion.

It’s OK that you’re clothed in an
undistilled kindness, one that doesn’t
really protect you from the rain,
that there are more words out there
your faith finds abrasive than there
are words that make the flowers grow.

It’s OK because there is fertile earth
in the spaces between the immovable
and the irreversible, because among
the burnt offerings, torn letters,
and the cheap cliché of tears
broken down by living, sincere living,
there is enough salt and sadness and
soul and serendipity and softness for you
to happen, and the chorus at the pit of
your stomach will sing itself, and the
words will carry things closer to their
rightful places: asking to awakening,
believing to being, island to intuition.
To indomitability.

The Sun Rises on Rapid City, 4/22

The problem is,
you only find a path
to shoot down the sun
at postmortem,

when the coliseum
is empty and the flourishes
of ego have been archived,
the dust you disturbed
swept away.

It’s not such
an incomplete thing,
doubt.
If you have replaced
one grain of certainty
with a pause,
a question for another day,
isn’t that power,
even if it means
you’re wrong?

Here, you show them
the line where the mud
meets the sandstone;
moving the mountain
is another story.
Possessing the truth
is an illusion, a summit
that leans against
the ever-shifting light.
The climb is everything
you’ll ever own.

You are where you’re going,
all the lies you’ve survived.

There is still a place
for you at the table
where it adds up,
all the missing gold
that’s been recovered
when before there was
only desperate searching.

At the Seams

spring arrives the way
dawn arrives,
only hungrier.

there’s something to it
like the chaos of childbirth:
despair, pain,
purging, cleansing,
untouched corners and
the change that touches them.
water everywhere,
light that hesitates.
a pulling away,
two seasons,
two hemispheres of consciousness,

two curses.
pauses.
hopes mixed with blood.

Self-Discovery is a Tree-Lined Winding Path

They built an amphitheater
in the place where I’ve chased
hundreds of sunrises
back when there was dawn
in my step and the rest
of my life was still a secret
that fate was withholding,
all the probabilities glistening
on the edges of each blade
of grass and I could hear
the impeccable pink hum
of time in that two-foot gap
they left on the footpath so as
not to disturb the running creek,
a constant reminder to always
look where we’re going. Every
morning during typhoon season
I would rescue the snails that had
wandered onto the damp concrete
and reverently place them back
in the safety of the green earth,
away from crushing death by
running shoes or bicycle wheels.
Those creatures’ lives were
little petals of karma I collected,
and after six years exchanged
for a lush garden of good favor
from the cosmos in the form
of thunderous applause for my
then boyfriend, who was an
aspiring reggae singer and
got to perform in campus
the songs of revolution we had
written together. It was that
place where one late night I
witnessed a bullfrog the size of
an adult human head battle a snake
to the death, and I was mesmerized
and paralyzed by awe and drunk
from the cocktail of discovering
life and traversing the Science
Complex Park with Diana Cerzo,
who was brilliant in graduate level
abstract algebra, a field that both
terrified me and enslaved me with
its perfect beauty. It was also
that place where a professor, who
twice humiliated me and once made
me cry in class, tried to talk me
out of my decision to quit
mathematics as we walked
side by side to the jeepney stop,
which short circuited my heart
because he inspired both despair
and hero worship in it. And I can
pull out a dozen more memories that
liked to call that place home, but
suffice it to say, they built
an amphitheater in the center of it,
and it is glorious, a hat tip to
the genius of ancient construction
and understanding of acoustics,
a landmark on a timeline
parallel to mine, a world that
excludes me, that I will always love.

The Physics of Shadows

It arrived
the way sunshine breaks
through lace curtains:
not as a testament
to the strength of one
or a critique of the assumed
infallibility of the other,
but as a moment
when the walls became less
symbols of imposition
and seemed to acquire
some soulful transliteration.
Discernment takes more
than the recognition of patterns,
although it needs it.
It’s separating distance
from intensity,
knowing that each can
exist without the other, and
that both are subject to faults.
Sometimes the light falters,
the heart trips on the threshold.
Self-forgiveness, then,
is part of the larger image,
of the method of the faltering,
if you will.
Tracing circles,
mandalas of interrupted light,
with petals made of teardrops
and edges that try
to mimic perfection.
And the house receives it,
because the inside welcomes
all sources of illumination.
The windows are covered,
not as an argument against
that need, but because it goes
with the rest of the things,
besides the light,
that it had accepted.

A room filling with imperfect
understanding,
the rest of me, arriving.
The lace paraphrasing the sun.
The moment putting up no
resistance to the blur
of coming hours that are
designed to contradict it.