A poem for my sister-in-law…

below heaven

for meliss

 

let me throw you in the pacific:
not your ashes, but this memory of us

that never happened. when you died
on the day of my birth, this wasn’t

the sun. it wasn’t the moon or the earth
or expanding sea. it was just this:

a bridge between life and death.
the moment i found you facedown

your heart stopped, and mine broke, too.
maybe that day in may never happened,

maybe we never heard those wedding bells,
maybe we couldn’t run away just like

my brother to vegas, where the sun swallowed
the desert pavement, or run away like my mother

all the way to america, where the demands
of familia were but thousand of miles away

because of this—this cavity in the heart.
this walang hiya, this shame.

here, i give you this—this need, this object
you may call shame

because i divorced the man who abused me.
because i became pregnant at 21.

because i humiliated my family.
because i walked to the front of the church

head covered, palms inward, to confess:
i am shame.

instead, i think of the day i found you:
head upward, body cold, heart stopped,

veins burst. instead, i relive this day
that never happened. i throw everything

cries, shakes, this cavity in the heart
into the sea.

i stand on cliffs near a seaside city
and empty out my shame for you.

i walk down the aisle, between frozen marbled
statues from greece, the sun shining through

the stain-glassed ceilings. i take step after step
toward you, below heaven.

i marry you in death.
i marry you instead because i choose to.

i choose to lose my shame. i choose lose
everything; i already lost it all.

so, here, i regrow it,
in this museum near the pacific.

the sun meets me again, and it says:
i do.

 

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