Christopher Rose

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“Maganda”

I watch your body twist
towards the wall and away
from me as we lay
a world apart on our
queen size.

Maganda

This is unmeasured pain. I use
a term that your family did
not teach you. I reach my hand
to yours and together we can face
lost histories.

Maganda

Your expression matches my own,
twenty years earlier, as I sit
at a kitchen table. My mother
and my auntie exchange Tagalog
as I’m lost in lumpia wrappings

 

Maganda

 

until my name interrupts their litany.
I am a bird that tries to fly
through a closed window
only to be stopped by the
impenetrable barrier

 

Maganda

 

that’s transparent all the same.
My knuckles whiten as they continue
their conversation, oblivious to my concern
and I sit in silence as my name rolls
off my mother’s tongue

 

Maganda

 

as easily as I roll lumpia. I learn
my family words and I listen
to their stories of lost loves
old relatives,
and my anger fades.

 

Maganda

 

I lean in
whisper in your ear,
beautiful.
Now you smile
when I say

Maganda

 

Now, it’s morning, and you prepare
to leave while I cling to a shirt
with your borrowed
scent.   Your laughter is my song
when I call out

Maganda

 

I use it like a magic word.

 

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