the house is what it isn’t. four corners,
once filled with framed paintings, photographs,
and fingerprints, our language written on its walls,

now scrubbed, bleached, coated with white paint.

the dining table is longer, wider, but not
empty. it does not miss the sound of slurping
stale ramen noodles, the clinking bottles of cold
beer, nor does it miss the stench of week-old
viand, reheated, when neither of us wanted to cook.

the bed no longer creaks, and the room
is no longer a movie scene, where we used to waltz
on left feet and spill sangria on the carpet floor,
where we laid on our backs and stared at the ceiling,
as if it were filled with stars, as if we were invincible.

and in the sala, an organized mess in balikbayan boxes,
stacked like towers, scattered like a battlefield
each box is a cassette tape; once favorite
songs, now inaudible nostalgia.

Raphael Salise
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