Ten

Sunset in the VisayasI’m building castles

In the sand

Like I’m a little girl

Again

/

I swim forth

Without looking back,

Trusting warm, silky waves

Again

/

I sit and stare

At sunset lights

Dancing with the moon

Into the night

/

And it’s as if

I never left,

And never aged,

And never died

/

Nine quiet deaths

/

I’m building castles

In the sand,

With dry old hands,

And a dry old heart

/

I swim forth

Without looking back,

Knowing the hells

I leave behind

/

I sit and stare

At sunset lights

That fade the way

All fades away

/

It feels like I’ve

Been gone forever,

And like I didn’t

Quite make it back

/

This – tenth – time

El Nido

Seawater, melting on my skin

With every splash of lazy waves,

The sand, which will not keep my prints,

The sun, which stings my trusting eyes,

The sharp cliffs, begging to be climbed –

All this I gratefully embrace

/

The sea’s glittering stars; its tales

Of lives, forsaken and reclaimed,

The clouds, which glide above my head

Like dreams ‘cross the gray skies of life,

This lonely man with tired eyes

On his stern face I kiss, I praise

/

My empty hands, which none could hold,

My troubled heart, that beats too slow,

The dim half-smile of my thin lips,

My blistered legs, which can’t find home,

This day has filled with strength unknown,

With life beyond the reach of words

Count me out

Count me out – I’m not coming: I can’t muster the strength

To exhale: I am drowning, and don’t want to be saved

/

I don’t want to be dragged up this thin shot-line to noise

I’m at home here – it’s quiet, but for my mind’s own voice:

/

It says I’ve got a mother; I reply: ‘but she knows…’

It says I’ve got a sister yet, she recalls me not

/

It says I love the mountains, and to read, and to smile;

I reply: ‘there is nothing that I love – you are lying,’

/

It insists I’ve a chance still to undo all my wrongs

But beyond good and evil there is no one I owe;

/

It begs that I forgive those who have hurt me to death

But I couldn’t, I’m sorry: I’m not as good as this

/

Then, it whispers a prayer to a god in some tongue

And I give it a moment till its voice is all gone

/

Gone’s the line I was holding, gone my breath, gone all hope;

The screams of pain from my chest let me know I’ve reached home

/

Count me out – I’m not coming: I can’t muster the strength

To keep myself from leaving shallow waters for depth