by Laura Gatmaitan Perez

it was the dark circles around her eyes,

perhaps the hollow of her cheeks that

i would recognize yards away.

absent-mindedly holding a cold,

leftover meal in a cup

how haggard

she looked, how anxious she appeared

despite the distance.

“would you like some?” and

without waiting for a response

i proceeded

to spoonfeed her. she obliged,

her eyes transfixed on mine as if

waiting for a solid confirmation.

soon she was

half-asleep in a makeshift bed,

bundled up like a child,

tossing like a warrior dreaming of combat.

very gently i touched her hair

making sure she was there

a dozen earrings by her side

began to slide

and she made a start, tried to stand up

before i placed them into a tiny box

the blings are some of the many contradictions

I discovered about her, she whom i didn’t see until it seemed too late

– blings of myriad colors,

– dazzling, teasing, reassuring –

blings that would belie her pain.


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