Ariadne’s Thread

what if the universe
could reveal itself to us
with a pull of a strand
its mysteries unravelling
like a worn sweater
our unspooled pasts behind us
like Ariadne’s red thread
marking the path
through this labyrinth

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Neverland

Wendy Darling asked where he lived
second star to the right, said Peter
and straight on till morning

once upon a time
in a nightgown adventure
a medley of fluttering fairy smiles
blue velvet dreams, and pirates by the shore
we believed that all anyone could need
were faith, trust and pixie dust
we stitch shadows to our feet, to remind us
of who we are without light

and the years after, we waited
our heads, resting on windowsills
we mapped the path between the stars
and during our long starlit vigil
we dreamt of you, Peter
of the twinkle in your eyes
as if they were the point on which
all the universe revolved

there will come a time
when we all fall victim to chronology
when Tiger Lily will have to hang her
dreams next to business suits on hooks
when the Lost Boys are all men now
hand over their still stargazing souls
into the claws of a corporation
swim with sharks until they drown

the villain will look different now
he has traded his eye-patch,
his flying pirate ship and his metal hook
for a business suit and a microphone
but he is still the same man behind this façade
the same fire in his heart
still spiteful, still angry, still afraid
of little boys and girls
and he will scatter bombs like fairy dust
over their rooftops

they will tell us to be realistic
this will hurt
because when we were children
they told us to dream big
they told us that the world is at our feet
only to rip our shadows from beneath us

so when one day, you realize
your shadow has vanished, Peter
please do not come looking
you won’t find me
because this Wendy Darling has left her
childhood in the gilded cages of her past
you won’t recognize her anymore

Places I Avoid

Rush hour traffic
Pot holes
Window seats
Vitriolic comment sections
Abandoned parking lots
Overpriced restaurants
The route to your house
Fast lanes
My hometown
The local library
Cracks in the pavement
The intersection in Venn diagrams
Rain puddles
Prayer mats
The patches of skin where your hand once was
The small of my back
My palm
My fingers
And the spaces in between
A crime scene

Crevasse To A Fault Line

For my cousin, Dhia

this is for the day you discovered bones aren’t
the only things that break, like fog melting into asphalt
he disappeared into the night. a father, more ghost than flesh
his mouth, a revolver. the sound of gunshot, your nursery rhyme
after he left, a crack worked its way up the living room wall
from a hairline fracture to a crevasse, to a fault line and
your mother would tell you not to worry, as she often does
and you hope for her sake that this house is stronger than
the two of you, but you still ask yourself: how long before
the cement finally gives way? how long before the floodgates
open and these bones are mended? but how do you heal
if they are no entry wounds? how do you bury the dead when
there is no body? only a broken rib, a collapsed lung and
a hunger for air.

Things We Don’t Talk About

When you were younger, we’d dress you up as a boy— in bowl cuts and hand-me-down racetrack pyjamas. The first time we crossed the sea, you cried inconsolably the whole trip here. The passengers in economy didn’t take to a wailing toddler too kindly. I wondered if maybe you could sense that I was afraid too.

When we arrived at the small, dingy hotel room we would call home for the next six months, with nothing but the clothes on our back and a rice cooker, you cried for the country we abandoned. Look, under the dressing table. That’s a bat cave. And over there, see this closet. It’s a castle, and you’re the queen. Come to the window with me. See that, the beach is your entire playground. Look at all that space.

The first time we took you to the beach, you got sand in your eyes. Your first instinct was to reach for my hands. When you stood proudly on the sofa cushions you stacked in the living room, and lost your balance. When we took out your training wheels and the split second before you feel like falling. The day we first taught you how to swim. Now all I do is wonder when my hands stopped being your anchor.

Is it the day you were crying in the shower and I slammed the door? Or is it the moment I reached for the car keys when I should’ve stayed? Don’t you know I visit the headstones of conversations we didn’t have and run my fingers over the inscription? Here lie the words left unsaid.

In my dreams, I light my demons on fire and watch them glow. My jaw finally breaks. My tongue untwists to say something lovelier than the past decade, and your hands intertwine quietly into mine— a catalyst for a warmer beginning.

But I Knew Him

You will never forget the way he smelled, like tangerines in the summer. Even years later, you would catch yourself thinking about the stolen glances in school corridors. You found his laugh in a boy in Bucharest. His particular shade of blonde in a girl you met on the train once. You, always piecing together the fragments of your past, each cobbled together. A mosaic— indecipherable, incomplete. You, always wondering when the final piece would wash ashore.

Excerpt from the Bucky Barnes/Steve Rogers fanfic I am destined to one day write.

Domino Dancing

I write her and write her
sometimes she is a victim of war
a divorcee
an unemployed 27-year-old
a suicidal magician
sometimes she is a ghost that haunts the story
but always a dysfunctional family
always lost
never a happy ending
I build her and build her
like pieces of dominoes but
however elaborate I try to assemble her
demolishing everything she stands for
is far more gratifying