(Un)titled

Today I was called a poet 

for the first time, 

and I am taking my duties seriously. 

 

I listen to the soft slurp with which 

the soil in the pots soaks up the water. 

I go to the park and check 

the spring’s progress: 

 

I notice that the chestnut leaves look 

like closed umbrellas on the beach 

(closed not for long now). 

I look at the pond: 

 

the breeze on the water’s surface 

is pixelating the reflection 

like a glitch during a Skype call, 

then quickly disappears. 

 

Now a lonely mallard 

is swimming across the pond, 

his emerald head glowing in the sun. 

He’s moving so fast that the water 

 

still holds his trace far behind him. 

Up in the sky, a plane 

is drawing a line 

perfectly parallel to the one in the pond.

I am standing on the bridge 

between these lines 

like a word in my notebook.

first published in Sky Island Journal, Issue 10

as "Untitled"

Hiding Strategies

My mother told me 

not to touch my face: 

it’s bad for the skin. 

Oh, but I couldn’t care less; 

all I want is to hide it 

from the CCTV that’s hanging 

in the corner of the room 

like a wasp nest. 

 

I want to touch my face, 

to feel it slowly 

like blind people do in films, 

to learn it anew, 

to reclaim it 

from the girl in the mirror 

who gets up too early 

looking discontent 

 

and treats it 

as but a surface for make-up. 

Which is just another 

hiding strategy, 

like headphones, 

or running after dark, 

or writing in your second language. 

You can’t see me, can you.

first published in Sky Island Journal, Issue 10

Another One for the White Nights

It’s warm; I go home on foot.

A sandal strap is scratching

a mosquito bite on my ankle,

which makes me think of X.

 

(but I shouldn’t I shouldn’t I shouldn’t)

 

I come home and check

how much I’ve walked today

and I turn off my phone

an hour before going to bed,

 

but then I dream of floods

and boys my age

of handwriting I can’t make out

of a ripped dress

 

I wake up and look

through my curtainless window.

At 4 am, the sky is radiant cyan,

glowing like an aquamarine.

 

You never really get used to it,

which, at the end of the day,

gives one hope.

And I want to be hopeful:

 

open-minded, light-hearted,

nimble-footed,

endearing as I am enduring.

I want to love

 

the sewing needle

as much as I love

the one that leaves ink

on my skin forever.

 

I want to never feel the shame

of running to catch

the last subway train—

and missing it.

 

I want to remember

the apple tree by the building,

the hotter summers and the colder winters,

being allowed to play outside

 

on my own. We were the last ones,

but it’s fine.

I want to think that it’s fine.

I want the itch to stop.

first published in Willawaw Journal, Issue 7