By David Jayson Oquendo (Poetry)

It was there where we first met, in the middle of the elements
the earth and water in constant contact over sand
grainy as the sound of your voice in my memories
and I wonder if I ever really knew you or were you
like the ocean so vast hiding so much deep down where the sun dare not go.

But I grew up by the sea and mysteries like you are like undiscovered dive sites
waiting for my body to discover and be one with. And so I dove.
And you were welcoming, and kind, and beautiful,
and the lust for adventure I had was stripped down
into a cautious whirlpool of emotions,
a maelstrom of what ifs and I wish’s and the only thing
I could ever do was leap into the centre
in hopes that you are not a calamity.

and surely you weren’t, or at least not yet

In you I found Atlantis, a kingdom I knew not of before
and I was the king, in place inhabited by only the two of us we were,
under the blanket of stars and the bellows of an open universe,
alone, and complete, like Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden right before the serpent came.

It wasn’t home.
Suddenly, we began to become numb,
Suddenly, I had shortness of breath,
Suddenly, I felt like I wasn’t me,
the way your hands do not look feel and look like yours
after submerging it underwater for too long.

We would talk for hours.
But in the long nights your voice were beginning to sound muffled
and when I’d reply I’d taste seawater and I’d choke.
And suddenly, like water at sea, you were beginning to drift away.
Or was it me? Or was it the both of us?
Caught in a force bigger than we were, we went
sweeping away the names of our children we decided
over marshmallows and a campfire
written in big letters in an island for all the world to see.

Time passed, but the scent of the sea still lingered in my body.
Your love is still warm in my skin,
Realizing what fool I was to let go of you I ran to you.

I swam,
knowing the dangers I’d be facing if I chose you.
And I remember
the feeling of the waves rocking me at sea
of how it lingered on my body even hours after I got out of the water
and it reminded me of how I never got over you.
I remember
the salty wind on my skin
the subtle embrace of a fleeting breeze gently pinching
and it reminded me of how I thought you’d never leave.
I remember
the taste of seawater
abrupt and strong
like a hundred little jabs at the back of my throat
and it reminded me of how your words tasted,
they were rash and unnecessary but they kept me afloat.
I remember
the sea itself, in all its immensity
dense enough to capture and muffle even sound
big enough to drown one’s thoughts and one’s own voice
and it reminded me of how my cries never got through to you.
I remember swimming through foam.
I remember swimming through a mixture of warm and cold temperatures
and I never stopped moving my hands and my feet because
they were starting to feel like lead
and I was afraid that like the metal
I would sink to the bottom of the ocean.
This reminded me of how I never gave up, until I did—
until I finally realized that the waves were against us,
that something as powerful as the moon was pulling you away from me;
until all I could do was to pray for the tides to wash me ashore

And there
I shall wait for you,