there was light, once. or perhaps, there was always light.
in my mind, you are haloed in gold, soft and smiling,
honey on your lips and your tongue rolling over my name.
this was a world untouched.
the sand, the river water, the swaying of the trees
just now born and alive.
i traced lines of sunlight on your skin --
constellations of day etched into the surface of your body.
did you carry the warmth of the sun in your heart?
there is warmth, the gentle kind, that lingers in each place
your hands touched.
we were not fated;
we faded each day we spent together,
becoming ghosts of ourselves, desperate for one last moment
one last kiss to remember this life.
i can't remember your face.
but in my dreams, the shape of your body becomes clear through the fog of time:
curved and soft, with hair that never tangled,
hands sculpted of marble, so perfect in their form.
you must have been the muse of many. your body must be built a thousand times over
out of stone and kept on display in museums.
your laugh echoes in my ears, but i cannot recall your name.
we must have been in love.
i still taste honey on my lips.
ii. THE PART WHERE I AM SHATTERED
the weeping doesn't get any quieter.
it has never been easy to muffle my grief, not when i am drowning in it.
i wake up from the same dream --
honeyed lips and soft hands, feet splashing in river water,
warmth against my skin.
i love a girl whose face i never see, stuck in my dreams, a moment away
from being completely forgotten.
the tears are just another part of the routine.
wake up, cry, eat breakfast.
it's just another day.
in my dreams, the world is full of light,
bright and untouched by bloodstained bodies
and everything is vibrant, thrumming with life.
outside my window, the pale of the sky fades behind rain heavy clouds.
this world is all concrete and smoke, broken glass glittering on asphalt.
how long has it been?
long enough to leech the color from the world, it seems.
i leave the sheets rumpled and twisted into knots.
the floor is cold beneath my bare feet.
the silence is familiar; i've lived alone for a long time now.
i am always alone.
there is a phantom feeling of lips pressed against the nape of my neck.
i add honey to my tea just to taste something familiar.
notebooks and pens are scattered along the counters,
half-filled sketchbooks piled up on one of the stools.
there's a dress i've never worn hanging from the top of the door
that somehow fills me with nostalgia.
as much as i try to bring to life what i see in my dreams,
all my attempts to put her face onto paper, to find where we once loved
besides a river of sugar water
lead me to dead-ends and renewed heartbreak.
i wasn't supposed to remember you, was i?
but still, here in another life, i can't help but love you.
i make breakfast for one, and lock the door behind me when i leave.
mine are the only keys there are.
interlude. A CONVERSATION, FORGOTTEN
THE LOVER: do you ever wonder how long this will last?
THE FORGOTTEN: of course i do.
THE LOVER: forever, or maybe a day. i wish for forever with you.
THE FORGOTTEN: we weren't meant to last. we were supposed to drown back then.
THE LOVER: i never understood that, you know. why they all
fear it so much. this river has never tried to pull
us under. it always sends us back to shore.
THE FORGOTTEN: this is the river for the divine. maybe we're blessed by the gods.
THE LOVER: but not enough to stay together.
[there is silence. in the background,
you can hear the river and the wind in the trees.]
THE FORGOTTEN: promise me something?
THE LOVER: anything.
THE FORGOTTEN: promise me you'll love someone else.
promise me you won't let me hold you back in your next life.
THE LOVER: in our next life, i will find you. and i will love you still.
THE FORGOTTEN: please, just promise me this. and don't forget me.
THE LOVER: how could i ever forget you?
iii. THE PART WHERE I AM PIECED TOGETHER
i don't dream that night. i wake up without tears.
i can hear a voice echoing around my head, but i can't make out the words.
the rain has cleared up. outside, there is a rainbow in the sky, slowly fading away.
i open a window and breathe in the air.
for once, it isn't heavy with smoke.
it's light and clear. it reminds me of a river, somehow.
the honey in my tea tastes sweeter.
i am suddenly gripped by the urge to go out;
something deep in my heart tells me to go,
so i go.
i throw on the dress, wearing it for the first time.
i think i remember you dancing on grass. you were ethereal,
fairy-like in your movement, fireflies dancing with you.
loving you doesn't hurt so much anymore.
i don't know where i'm going, but my feet seem to know the way.
everything i pass feels achingly familiar:
the line of trees, branching arching overhead, the dew-heavy grass,
the bright blooming of flowers in colorful clusters.
perhaps i have been here once, with you.
this is a place filled with light,
forgotten by the world.
in the distance, i can hear the rushing of water.
the air carries the taste of something sweet.
the world welcomes me; a homecoming after a thousand years.
lips press against the nape of my neck. soft hands circle around my waist.
i know your warmth long after i've forgotten your face.
you press honeyed lips against mine and whisper,
"welcome home, my darling. this time, we have forever."