Once upon a time,

a winged thing carved a hole in my heart.

I didn’t mind, I let it nest there
because it sang a small

defenseless song that lofted

marbles into the air. I wove them
into a tiara I wore on my hair,

not knowing yet how every note

of shimmering blue could drown
eventually in the wood. There is

that moment between two chords,

invisible space between a foreground
and what pounds beneath— and always,

one eternal tear that slides

down the middle of my chest
as the world turns and the sky

fills with the raucous cries of birds.

~ after “Once Upon a Time,” acrylic on canvas, 2016; Ulysses Duterte Jr.

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