I Stepped into A Series of Colored Rooms

In the yellow room:

a glass bowl
full of dead
bees. A black
petals as long
as my body.
I never had
a favorite type
of flower before.
Neither had she.
She kissed me
on the lips,
Instantly killing
herself. Her petals
burst, fell like
guillotined confetti.
I picked them up.
One by one.
Buried her
with the bees
in a blue yard.
This is why I came here:
To grieve.


In the white room:

were all my dead pets.
Spot, Cha Cha, Güero.
All the pets I loved
and left, reincarnated.
And Leo, my Leo.
He jumped on my lap
and curled into a donut.
Like he always had loved me.
We sat in soft silence.
After we euthanized him
I wondered about the
thoughts and souls of animals.
Can animals go to heaven?
I asked my uncle.
He said they couldn’t.
No tienen almas. I imagined
a world without animals.
The silence of heaven.
What about the oceans?
And the mountains?
A morning emptied
of birds singing.
I wouldn’t want to live in
an animal-less heaven.
I told Leo all of this.
Then, we fell asleep.
He, nested between my legs.
Me, hoping he had a soul,
hoping he had thoughts,
hoping the Catholics
had it all wrong, again.
I woke up in an empty room.
Caught between my legs,
Leo’s ashes.


In the red room:

A brown bowl full of blood.
Floating on the brim, a hibiscus.
I could feel the tender beginnings
of cramps. The cresting pains
brewing like a swollen storm.
My unborn eggs untangling
from my uterus, clawing for an out.
I could hear the hibiscus sucking
the blood from the bowl.
Until I was emptied.
I felt like a green field in a gray day
and accepted my womanhood.


In the blue room:

A holographic image
of my grandma.
She was painting
an image of a woman,
cooking in a tiny,
cluttered kitchen.
Back to the viewer.
I told my grandma that
when I was a kid
I wrote her letters,
tied them to balloons,
sent my words to heaven.
I asked her if she read them.
But she couldn’t talk,
after all, she was just
a projection in my mind.
I told her about the time
we visited her grave.
My grandpa gave me
200 pesos.
I bought a bouquet
of real flowers.
I thought them being alive
made them prettier.
My grandpa scolded me,
said they would die.
The plastic ones last longer.
Years later I understood
how much he loved her,
enough to want eternity.
I sat like that for a while,
watching her brush
her translucent canvas,
wondering if she was real.
Then, she got up.
Walked through me.
Left like she had
so many times,
before I was born,
to an invisible god.

Fourteen Ways of Looking

At fourteen I imagined that in the face of great tragedy, I would be brave, heroic even.


It starts just before dusk: golden hour spritzed with Callery pear trees.