i know an archivist
who sits by her window
taking note of everything
that no one else sees.
there’s an archivist
i know, and no one knows
she’s an archivist –
a secret for no other
reason than secret-keeping.
the way that tree
over there is losing its
leaves, 5 to 6 at a time,
even though it’s spring
– noted.
(i know the feeling)
entry 1,232,154 done.
that bird with the yellow
streak across its back
singing at the top
of its lungs,
looking thirsty
(i know the feeling)
– that’s 1,232,155.
and the little cloud
moving faster than its
sisters, trying so hard
to catch up,
(i know the feeling)
even that is noted
even the little
bumble bee mistaking
window-glass for
free space – a soft
tap only the archivist
can hear
(i know the feeling)
– that’s entry 1,232,157.
every little thing is
archived, made note of,
noticed – and sense can be
made of everything later:
in the shadows, where
it’s safe.
taking her place by the
window, counting 1 2 3 4
under her breath,
the archivist lives in a
house without a door.
no, the archivist lives
in a house where the
door has been barricaded
no, there is no barricade,
but the door is made of
steel and can only be
opened from the outside.
no, the door is not made
of steel, but i promise
you it’s locked.
silly archivist, reach
out and try turning
the knob.
come on now.


i know a sentimentalist
whose body’s created a
whole separate heart just
for her memories.
there’s a sentimentalist
i know and no one knows
she’s a sentimentalist,
a secret for no other
reason than secret-keeping.
the day she first touched
the hand of the love
of her life –  she remembers
all the details, grand and miniscule.
(how could i forget?)
that one takes up a lot of
the first time she noticed
a prominent grey streak on
her father’s head,
she cried
(how could i forget?)
that memory birthed a
and the day her siblings
collectively consoled
her through her first
heartbreak; they were
so gentle with her
(how could i forget?)
that one makes her
feel like a candle’s been
lit inside her
(it was belonging for
the very first time).
even the little things
like the feeling of
mama’s hugs and how they
smell like safety – a
faint scent only the
sentimentalist can smell
(how could i forget?)
that one she craves
nothing she sees or
feels can be forgotten –
the good and bad alike:
all with the same intensity.
some days the grief is
louder and some days hope
wins; it’s a gamble
and there is no reward.
the memory heart is in
her gut, and some days
she’s sure she’s having
a heart attack.
no, the memory heart is in
her throat, and if she tries to
speak, she chokes.
no, the memory heart is
a door to a room where the
windows open straight
to the past.
silly sentimentalist,
there is no such thing
as a memory heart.
come on now.


i know a woman who lives
in a house without a door
and has a memory heart
in her gut.
there’s a woman i know
and no one knows what
she’s thinking.
no one knows what
she’s thinking.
she’s lost it.
it’s not even a secret.



there will be days when you lose
me completely
when i will try to open my mouth
to speak to you and the words
will just sit there on my
tongue: heavy, large,
entirely unable to become
there will be days when i am
just a shadow, when you
will try to look at me
but only be able to see right
the ghost of who i once was –
an empty shell.
there is a sickness inside me
which constantly beckons me to
there is a monster clawing
at me from the inside
and these days it’s always
winning. the bleeding will
start soon, i can feel it.
there will be days when you
lose me completely, where
i will disappear so
professionally you will wonder
if i ever really existed.
grand and alive as i was.
once teaching hope and wonder.
there have been days when you
have lost me, completely,
i know. you’re still looking.
every time, there is less and
less of me to be found
in the burning debris of
my breakdown.


today the past has come to life
and my place in the world
(or lack of)
is loud and clear,
nonbelonging painted over my
skin – shades of black and blue.
what is a bruise if not
an acknowledgement of pain:
hurt made visible?
who am i if not
an acknowledgement of pain:
trauma made visible
and too human to ignore?
the past has come to life today
here in my house,
and it is breathing in all
my oxygen, leaving me reeling
on the floor.
the past has come to life today
and it is pushing knives deep
into my flesh.
what is my body if not
proof that things can grow
in places where they are not
this -my- body is proof
things can grow where they
are not welcome,
where they are not loved,
where they are always
on the outside.
things can grow when they
are not welcome (look at me,
look at the size of me)
but when they die,
they still die alone.

living with loss

he knows me well,
walks through my apartment
like he owns the place,
casts a shadow on every
corner with even a
semblance of light
reflecting off it.

we live together.

the closet is half mine,
half his.
he fills his side
with all my traumas,
color-coded and
freshly folded,
ready to wear.

he owns the
air i breathe, too
and charges me guilt on
days i breathe too well,

i tip him extra.

half the fridge belongs to
him. he stocks it
with my memories,
plastic-wrapped and frozen
in time,
ready to be consumed.

most breakfasts are
nights at the hospital.

for lunch,
he’s spoon-feeding me
beeping machines and calling
for nurses, sleeping on
the ICU floor,

he wants me nourished and

and i swallow every bite.

this is loss.

and you might have not noticed
him, but he saw you here.

he was the one that made sure
every kiss felt like our first
and our last, the butterflies
in our stomachs
fluttering but heavy with

he’s bigger now that
you’re gone, too.

this is loss.

he knows my name.
and i know him more intimately
than i ever wanted to.


For years, your hellos
meant “welcome home”.
I was a soldier
every time you walked in,
running to you homesick
and wounded, looking
for the end of the war
inside me.

You put the
fires out every time,
defused all the ticking
bombs, declared my heart
a peaceful nation for
once –

How was I supposed to fall
out of love with you?
You didn’t even have the
decency to turn into a

The nerve to still be
your gorgeous self.

You ray of sunshine,
you light of my fucking
life –
I wasn’t afraid of the
dark until I met you.

The audacity to stand there
and continue to embody all
that is good and beautiful
and holy.

How dare you?
To become both my pain and
my healing, my executioner
and my very last wish.

Now my heart is a country
in turmoil, war-torn and
ravaged, bombs going off
a famine of the soul;

How dare you carve yourself
into my skin then expect me
to just shed you?

Rings on our fingers and
rings on our skin,
you were it for me.

Even now, I love you
is sub-text for everything
we say,
even “I hate you”.

We know this.

When I ask how you’re doing,
I’m saying you’re still
the love of my life.

I know your “I’m fine”
is just I miss you.
Blanket reality with

We are so fucking polite.

Last night, I realized again
that I lost you.
It comes in waves.
It washes over.

I came to you gasping for

I said “hello”.