my most faithful survivor;
But which seeds of their mouths/ my mouth’s seeds have I grown/ flowered into trees/ memories/ memory trees I continue to water
Which feathers did I pluck from which bird to build/ fan my own plumage
Whose voice is it I hear when I speak/ is it mine/ if it isn’t mine?
Are these hands mine?/ If I do not recall/ how to fold them with grace/ This gait, mine?/ If I do not recognize the stance/ in the mirror
And this anger?/ If I have not spurned/ the lava spilling from my chest/ if, at all, it had seethed through my own ribs
I have built islands & monuments/ cradled each splinter of a spire/ without knowing how or when/ without souvenirs for these hands/ & the tools they bore/ & if there truly are splinters nestled underneath my palms
And if it is not mine, I cease/ to admire/ these islands I inhabit,/ these monuments/ familiar in grit/ I fall in love/ with beauty/ at times
Did I dig out those plots in the ground?/ Cracked the land open/ dirtied my hands with hurt/ in the backyard of time/ & buried these bulbs/ & watered them?
There is dirt on my boots/ does it make it true?/ & if I was only a spectator/ or a stand in/ What about the dirt I’ve scraped/ from my nail beds/ & if not from mine,/ could it mean I’ve worked hard/ to remember/ to plant a memory/ to neighbor the intimacy
Let them flourish/ take root/ embrace rot
Because they flourish./ they root./ they rot.
Everyone might’ve/ taken up hands/ to build a garden/ for the seeds/ into bulbs/ & tended them/ bled them dry/ potted/ in honor/ of what?
When they wilt/ from my awful green thumb,/ the poison of my forgetfulness,/ I begin to probe/ if the leaves grew red/ the petals, green/ if the pungence was sweetness/ or if at all/ there was only pungence/ or simply, the sweetness of death
Everyone has truths/ tells lies/ lives half-truths/ has little fictions they’ve accepted as real/ reels/ Was it the other way around?/ I am certain/ never certain
my most unreliable witness.
Audrey L. Reyes (she/her) is a queer Filipino poet and former early childhood educator whose favorite workplace activity is raising hell. Her work has appeared in several online literary magazines, anthologies, and print issues around the world. She resides in Manila.