Size / / /

Content warning:



I walk the side of the pier, feel it sighing
under my toes. My clothes hang
like clouds on my shoulders, my body two sizes
small. My father waves goodbye and says,
   Tighten your face, as if the screws were still

attached.

The lake lengthens into a bridal
veil, into a bridesmaid to carry it, into a groom.
   I protest at first—Why would I marry myself?
and

I wake.

On a tree hangs a noose
full of flowers, soft light filling each baubled
dewdrop. Underneath, a woman tries to sell
fabric. My mouth opens
as stubborn as a stolen lock refusing
   the key. Instead, I buy

the rain.

Nanay used to say each lake
is merely an evolution from the ocean. She said,
   It’s smaller, more contained, but stagnant.

I do not know what hides in the soft flesh
of my mouth: an ocean, or
a lake.

In a forest is a pond, its surface a grimy
window, and the water slippery when I
catch it. A boy next to it tells me
that it has been stagnant for decades. My tongue panics
   when I try to reply, so I wade a stick

into the glass.

I restrict my walks
to the backyard, resting under the pained
   back of a sampaguita vine as it shudders

into labor. The falling blooms brush
like wings, a remnant of their former
bodies. I ask them what it feels to fall
before their parents
do.

In our house, the Lady Friend sits. She visits
daily. I yearn to say, Bulok, but I can’t speak
her language. She smiles at all the wrong silences, actress
of the only one in a stand-up club who finds the joke
at all. But she smells like the ocean, and our house stinks
of ponds and lakes. As she leaves, she glides the way
a sampaguita falls. I cannot speak to her as I can
—not speak to my father, the woman under
the tree, the boy by the pond. It is the language
   of the water breathers that I simply have

no gills to swim into.

Nanay used to smell like the ocean.
   Nanay used to move like the ocean:
      a body riding the water into mountains.
         Nanay, you used to sound like the ocean.
      Nanay, I cannot hear the ocean you loved
   in the shells you kept among wilting sampaguita
petals. Have I grown deaf—

When the phone rings, I don’t answer, and the house is shuttered
softly with veils. I know what they’ll all say
   anyway. My father knows

not to ask, or maybe he doesn’t. Maybe he is too
busy staring at his empty finger

to notice.

I hide under
the sampaguita vine. The fallen petals bunch
together like the folds of a wedding
dress, and in the house I hear the Lady
Friend and my father, their laughter kissing
in the air. I stare at the basket cradled
in my arms. What was I looking for? I turn, shaking,
to the house, but the petals crush
   my feet
like chains.



Yvanna Vien Tica is a Filipina writer whose work has appeared or is forthcoming in Poet Lore, Hobart, and Shenandoah, among others. A high school senior, she is the 2021 Hippocrates Young Poet and the 2021 1455 Teen Poetry Contest winner. In her spare time, she can be found enjoying nature and thanking God for another day.
Current Issue
3 Oct 2022

Lying in bed last night I felt fingers reach in, grabbing. I opened in spite of myself as you clawed me with your fingernails, flattened, panicked. Split throat, iron tongue, white masks ranged overhead, the rings on their fingers scraping me as they reached in to take you.
from my tower we climb, shroud as my veil. We leap on his fae steed
I tell smug Cyclops that I’m as gay as the next mutant, and that all mutants find themselves within battles
Get ready to feel hungry, because the theme for this quarterly roundup is food.
Friday: The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo 
Issue 26 Sep 2022
Issue 21 Sep 2022
Issue 12 Sep 2022
Issue 5 Sep 2022
Issue 29 Aug 2022
By: Cat T.
Issue 22 Aug 2022
Issue 15 Aug 2022
Issue 8 Aug 2022
Issue 1 Aug 2022
Issue 18 Jul 2022
Load More
%d bloggers like this: