It still twinges
on cold nights,
and itches from imagined
Sometimes, I expect
to look and see it
I still pull blankets
over it at night,
and see its outline
beneath the cotton sheets.
I still feel
the blood coursing
to find out
where it really is.
My nails find nothing
to scrabble at.
I am still counting
tion? It left
while I was asleep.
I am left
of its departure.
It has preceded me
to the grave.
I am dying
(for Kristoffer Ian Villalino — the morning after, March 9, 1997)
it is too much for us, the fantasies,
the mirages founded on empty air,
the groping and walking in circles,
finding nothing solid in outstretched hands.
the purple tongue protruding through cracked lips
rasps the soft skin and rasps the soft skin off.
then boneless, the skeleton of lips
protests the passage through uncertain sands,
and reaches ends too tired to feel relief.
it is too much for us, the long dry coughs,
bringing nothing up but the salt of phlegms —
hands tearing at the throat to reach within —
we choke on hands that try to give us drink.
Alexander N. Tan Jr.,M.D. graduated from the University of the City of Manila (Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila) with a Doctor of Medicine Degree. He also holds a Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy degree from Our Lady of Fatima University. He was a fellow at the 36th Dumaguete National Summer Writers’ Workshop (1997). His short stories and poems have been published in several literary journals throughout the Philippines and the United States. He is a member of MENSA Philippines. A practicing physician and physical therapist, he writes and lives in Mandaluyong City, Philippines.