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
It had been years since I last saw him.
I dress in haste, body scarred
by his constant
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
When we are done, I leave,
Lamp posts line the streets; raining down
pools of orange light.
Tears dripping, I walk through them.
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.