calliope, calliope 2016

sprint (a self portrait)

photo credits here, edited.

by tyrina toh

tell me all of the things that make you feel at ease,

him pressing the pads of his cold thumbs against traces of clumsy shapes burning on his forearm endearingly, crooked smile and eyes like thunder reminding you of the first time you met.

we’re running so fast, sprite tumbling through our veins haphazardly in a synchronized choreography – streetlights barely wobbling back into vision when our lungs are close to puncturing like the pastel balloons the small boy in the parking lot was clutching onto.

on some nights, he watches the stars with damp grass against his favourite sweater and compares the constellations to the scrawny tattoo across his wrist. the stars are falling, but he’s never been a fan of moving – because everything’s warmer when the wind doesn’t blow, and you can’t trip over when you’ve never gotten up.

perhaps if we closed our eyes, we’d forget where the boundaries lay – when a person of order being unable to check all the boxes in the requirements listed by prying eyes is no longer a fatal affliction, but rather a sign of brave novelty from the dim loops of calculated breaths and cut lips put on repeat.

sometimes all we need is a little time off to forget the days spent on convincing yourself that you don’t belong here because even when we’re down to our skin and bones, it still takes far too much to coax the cold out of the night.

i remember him one morning with his head in his hands: let’s just do it, and do it unapologetically. he never forgot that breathing was a luxury, and he would reel himself back up shore with memories carved on his beaten lungs – back into the basics and the simple life, raw and untamed.

because he could never understand why people always looked for the soft brown spot in a fruit:

pressing so hard they created it.


Notes: This poem was awarded a Top Award at the National Poetry Festival Competition (English) 2016, with the theme ‘reflections’

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