Tender Like A Bruise

Poetry by | September 21, 2020

He tells me to stop crying.

He had the most beautiful,

most cruel mouth: gums pink

as Mother’s expensive lipstick, tongue

soft and sharp.

His lips are tight like a vice

around the end of a withering cigarette—

Marlboro Red, no longer

than my thumb.

We lie in the quiet aftermath

of us fading. We do



not one body of memories.


He reminded me of my father,

smelling of smoke in the early evening, sitting

on the curb in front of the house

in Laguna.

It had been years since I last saw him.


I dress in haste, body scarred

by his constant

effortless nonchalance.

He says goodbye like an afterthought:

a stray bullet shot with eyes turned

the other way.


Weeks later, he calls.

I’ve missed your body.

His words are now tender,

like a bruise

pressed by young, curious fingers, wondering:

Would the skin open up to let the purple

            and yellow spill out like paint?

He is there and not there

at once.


When we are done, I leave,

stomach full

of melancholy.

Lamp posts line the streets; raining down

pools of orange light.

Tears dripping, I walk through them.

I bathe,

I bathe,

I bathe.





Nina Alvarez is a writer and illustrator based in Davao City. A graduate of Creative Writing from the University of the Philippines Mindanao, Nina Alvarez believes that the best way to show gratitude for experiencing good stories is creating more for others to experience as well.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.