POETRY July 7, 2023

Aubade with Glass Windows

I have to tell you this.
                   I bleed.
Scrubbing my skin in the morning while I pretend
that my sins are being washed away,
                   my wrists, my fingers clog the drain.
You begin another Tuesday. I stand under the shower,
trying to calm my breathing with your steady footsteps,
                               the shuffling of clothes, the slamming of our front door.
                   Sometimes we live inside a paper house.
There are pillows on the couch, and talks about sex and dreams
and modern art, and plans to catch a movie on Sunday.
    The night is draped around my skin, our reflection
  on glass windows; all I see is a blur the color of streetlights.
            Then a glare of white teeth. For a second, I forget
                   what my face looks like.
                   I haven’t gotten used to these flashes, deep-seated laughter,
   your voice like a blanket, my chest wound tight, and the night
     humming outside our too-tall windows, beyond the fences, in the streets.
Spread out on the couch with my arms on the coffee table, the depression
                   falls out of my mouth. You know I am afraid
of going to my bedroom, where the silence pulls at my knees.
              My bed looks like a moonlit swimming pool.
Did you ever think you would see me like this—
wearing my illness on my sleeves?
Tell me what happens when they turn out the streetlights.
                   I don’t know where the water in my bedroom comes from.
                             I don’t know where else to begin.
On glass windows, I look at you,
   silent sleepless, awaking,
and see half the world turn blue.

Clare Labrador is a writer from the Philippines. She has a bachelor’s degree in creative writing from the Ateneo de Manila University, and at present, she is studying law. Her poetry has appeared in Waxwing.