35

Sometimes, loving someone
is about leaving them the way they are.
Not everyone belongs on your to-do list,
not everyone is fit to be fixed.

While we may believe that
we’re meant to leave people
better than we found them,
sometimes, we’re just meant to leave.

If I tried to censor every mouth I met that ever
uttered a nasty word,
I’d be a moth
racing towards every light, enticing,
trying
to kill me.

There is no shame giving up
on someone you just couldn’t save
if it means you save yourself from it, too.
There is courage in continuing to keep the door propped open
even after the bad ones got in.
But there isn’t in sewing yourself up
even when you knew it’d
hurt this much after.

Not everyone can be saved from themselves;
it is not your responsibility to save each one.
Sometimes, loving yourself
is about hearing footsteps enter your home
that already sound like someone leaving
and not take this as a challenge, but knowing it’s
just someone on their way out.

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34

If our story came with footnotes,
may we never refer to them.
A spine, crackling
cover to cover overflowing,
documenting everyday:
a weather forecast
a ticket stub

Our first kiss tasted just like
the next decades of my life
flashing before my eyes.

When the sun shines
peeking through, peach tones
that’s the lightness I feel
coming home to you.
You told me once that the freckles on my cheeks
were proof of every time the sun
kissed my face.

When the time comes
and the sky opens up and we’re swallowed whole
I pray I enter empty-handed, with nothing to show.
“I have gifted all the love you afforded me,”
and the universe would laugh,
“While you have none of what I gave you
all those years ago,
you are still adorned
with someone who has offered his
back to you.”

33

Bumblebee
buzzing over mason jar
your mother’s secret recipe
embalmed in glass
a strawberry, macerated
soaked in sugar, honey
in my bloodstream.

Crimson checkered cloth
scratchy grass just a fabric away
a summer of sunburnt complaining
and wearing rose-coloured glasses by fall.

I’m flipping pages of someone else’s story
laying, leisure
the protagonist battles the beast
as I tame my windswept hair

A watermelon in July
the peak of fruit
like the trailhead of a hike,
I come back every summer
to stay in the warmth
just a little bit longer.

32

As if everyday was New Year’s Eve,
you crack me open to see what you get in return.
When you treat everyone as just a gear to a mechanism,
you’ll soon realize how robotic you’ve become.

You were born from love
of jungle gyms and stomping grounds, but
if you’ve only ever seen the world through
this lens of us versus them
then I’m sure you were great at hide and seek.

Wearing others down like
a pair of shoes I meant to replace,
when someone’s resolve shatters under your pressure
like the snap of a thunderclap
is it music to your ears?

We were put on this earth with others
and maybe one day you’ll figure that out.
It’s no quiet accomplishment
sewing up these loud sutures again and again,
but if you do find yourself alone
thinking maybe I’ll take your call,
know that I am among an army of others
and you’ll be a ghost in my voicemail.

Because while I walk with such unsightly lesions,
at least I don’t carry the weight of your nasty, nasty heart.

 

Hi everyone! I’ve been so busy at my summer internship, and I apologize it takes me so long to get back to all your loving comments. I swear I’m working through them– you’re all so important to me, so please be patient! If you’d like to keep up to date with me and my personal adventures, please find me on Instagram at @elleguyen 🙂
Thanks for coming by this Sunday! Always remember it’s easier to say no the first time than it is to sew yourself up after the fact.

Love,
ELLE

31

Within these dusty diary pages
nostalgia lies for her midday nap
3pm, summer day
windows wide.

I remember when growing older was a promise of the future
the A-OK to have pancakes
anytime we damn well wanted,
under our own roof, our own law.

I used to sneak out of that humble home
we’d meet at the park and race to the swings
he’d reach so high on the set, he swore
he touched the stars with his own two feet.

Growing older meant we wouldn’t have to
give report cards to our parents,
we could rip them up
and never see the light of judgement.

Recess at 9:40,
lunch at 11:40;
turns out,
without that structure,
we collapse under the scaffolding.

We have lived our childhoods in regimens and timetables
we’ve added those numbers together
and that’s all we have.
My parents were so eager to show off my grades to aunts and uncles
but years later, I realized
I was never taught a pancake recipe.

I’ve spent so much time keeping busy
this façade of adult success,
that my feet haven’t touched stars
in years.
Like gutting a pumpkin just to put a candle inside,
we ache in order to impress others.

30

A nation of car horns and serene waterscapes
women in masks, shields against the burning sun
a family of bandits,
streetside dining.

Nation of noise
I return for the tranquility.
Strong drinks and ice cubes, sweating
a firm opposition of to-go coffees
because if you have time to order one,
you also have time to sit down and enjoy it
in the company of others doing the same.

Weekend getaway to this island home
even in another language,
each gust of wind
whispers my native name.

Cutting open a ripe mango
its nectar races to my elbows.
In oceanside hammocks,
we’re laughing anecdotally of all the places we’ve been
and how home has never tasted
quite as sweet as this.

I did not win the scholarship essay contest you all so kindly voted me for. However, I’m not upset, because I landed an internship at a PR agency which directly relates to my school studies! My blog numbers and being part of this community translated perfectly to how I managed to get the job, and so while one door closed, a larger, MASSIVE door opened! Thank you all for following up with my personal studies, and I hope you’re all doing well too!
This piece is dedicated to my parents’ home, Vietnam. Have you ever been somewhere that felt like a second home? Tell me about it in the comments!

Thank you all again for supporting me.

Love,
ELLE

29

Pair of keys,
I am left in the mailbox
just in case you forget yours.
Always last picked,
choosy team captains.

Once, in a dream,
I piloted my own ship
stern and bow,
then and now?
Plenty of difference.

If only my voice was louder
than the waves surrounding me,
my siren’s song, crystal clear
reeling in my catch.

I’ve forgiven a lot of awful things
just because I still loved
the mouth that said them.

If only I knew then
that apprehensive kindness
is not kindness.

If only my voice was louder
I’d say more than just what
they wanted to hear,
(maybe I’d be on my own team).
For now, I’m just a
parakeet.