I hang up the phone.

I take the dress of black silk off the hanger,
calmly fold it in three.

I place the pearls on top.

I close the case.

.

The winds are cold,
this Manila summer night.

– “Cold Summer Night” — for Ate Mariel.

LL.

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Kitty cat, kitty cat,
one, two, three–

I’m trying my all,
trying to be the best I can be;

Kitty cat, kitty cat,
one, two, three–

I’m trying to lift the darkness,
just a little, just to let me see;

Kitty cat, kitty cat,
one, two, three–

I’m trying to move, I’m trying to leave,
I’m locked in place, keys won’t set me free;

Kitty cat, kitty cat,
one, two, three–

The world is suffocating,
will you please stay with me?

– “Kitty Cat, Kitty Cat” — for Meme.

LL.

Take off my clothes
My fingers, my nails
The skin off my arms and legs

Rip the lids off my eyes
The hollow in my cheeks
The gums in between my teeth

Claw the meat off my neck
Gouge out the muscles, the veins
Squeeze the life out of my brain

Strip me of who I am
Strip me of who I need to be
Strip me of who the world needs me to be

Leave me naked
upon the scheme of the universe

Take the world out of me,
let me be free.

– “Strip” — for Gianni.

LL.

Mirror, mirror, on the wall,
show her the fairest of them all.

The lady stands
in front of the mirror,

Black eyeliner,
hair up the highest it can go;

The lady stands
in front of herself,

Lo, is the truth;
Lo, is her.

Mirror, mirror, on the wall,
show her the fairest of us all.

The lady stands
in front of the mirror,

Smashes it into pieces,
blood and glass;

The lady kneels
on the ground,

A shard in each hand;
Still, she looks back at her.

Mirror, mirror, on the wall,
make her understand, she is the fairest of her all

– “Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall” — for Val.

LL.

Rumor says,

a little fairy lives
in the old potted plant
by the doorway.

.

For five years I’ve been working,
not once have I seen it watered.

Rumor says,

the little fairy living
in the old potted plant
by the doorway

waters the plant
with her own tears.

For five years I’ve been working,
not once have I seen it as anything but green.

Rumor says,

the little fairy living
in the old potted plant
by the doorway

lives in such grief,
day in, day out,

not one day unwatered
for the old potted plant.

.

For five years I’ve been working,
this once I came in–

said good morning to the old potted plant,
pushed the door open, then walked in.

Rumor says,

the little fairy living
in the old potted plant
by the doorway,

this one day in thousands,
forgot to shed a tear;

this one day in thousands,
let go of a leaf, let it tremble in the air.

.

For six years I’ve been working,
the past year I spent in song–

every morning I said good morning, every afternoon I whistled a tune,
every morning she’d listen, every afternoon she’d sing along.

Rumor says,

there once was
a little fairy

who lived in such grief,
she watered an old potted plant
with her own tears.

But one day, someone listened;
one day, someone heard.

Rumor says,

the potted plant by the doorway wasn’t always plastic,
the old one dried to a crisp;

for the little fairy who once watered the old potted plant with her tears,
she had none left to shed — only happiness now, only bliss.

– “The Little Fairy Living in the Old Potted Plant by the Doorway” — for Jess.

LL.