140

I think of how freedom tastes like
a crisp sparkling soda
where the sun meets sand
head meets heart
these are the places I always go
when the light shines on the back of my hands

today, especially
I remember that our paths aren’t all the same
that my skin tone is in itself, a token of value
one that grants freedom
the benefit of the doubt
a price that others often find themselves paying

139

we lived in a house at the end of the street
you’d turn the corner from the main road and we were there
this delicate landmark
this home sweet home

some nights the house would creak
old pipes, my dad would say
but some nights I swore I heard voices
ghosts of me from the future
whispering to remember this part
to remember this

I’m inflicted with memory
of first steps and a porch swing
a swinging pendulum of how time passes
that limbo when a moment turns into a memory
and all you can do is just watch it leave

when will this memory taste less sour
when does it get sweeter

137

second place, silver trophy
a medal for doing well, but
not well enough
funny how validation weighs like
a chunk of metal around your neck
funny how time passes
seconds, ticking by
something just barely out of reach

136

some nights I dream up worlds
that are so close to the one I live
I’m not always sure which one
of us is awake

my life has encountered endless open doors
and ones I’ve closed by choice
if there is some almighty power
bigger than any of us
I hope each variation of myself
is living her variation of a dream

I wonder if she’s happy
I wonder if I am

135

when you win, you make a speech
thanking the ones who supported you
you’re supposed to be humble in your poise
you’re supposed to smile

there are some trophies you earn
that never have a ceremony
no round of applause

does success still count
if there is no fanfare?

at what point
does a table for one
fill a room?

134

I’ve had dreams of alternate worlds
cotton candy clouds and magical hillsides
where things go upside down on thursdays
and there’s no wifi on sundays

my feet will one day plant on uneven ground
and find strength to grow
even amidst strangeness