The pages you have yet to write are flagged and fluorescent,
post-it pennants waving for another town’s fiesta.
Massage the verbiage, the hiring manager instructs.
That year you disappeared on paper, pulling out ropes of mint
from a plot that wasn’t yours. The word rhizome took root.
All you have to do is write one true sentence, said Hemingway,
tossing orange peels into the fire. No smell corresponds
to a number expiring. The bean tendrils require no training
up the trellis and are evidence enough. In a former life
as a buttoned-up fraud, you fronted a room, teaching tenses,
the disposability of adjectives. Make exceptions for the true.
The sprouting potatoes you threw into the stew.
Words your mother uses: improper, rankle, thingamajig.
Words your father uses: mundane, lugubrious, pizzazz.
What histories can be constructed from your shared vocabulary?
That year an account locked you out, your security question:
Where do I go from here? Too many doors require
too many codes. Stupid is a jumble of stew, chew and Cupid
in the mouth. In what future will papers be stamped,
permission granted, your shadow pronounced present?
Gardens are immoveable. Each failure simmers
down to a single word: unlikely, eclipsed, spectacle.
The past tense of write is not wrought.
Naya Valdellon is a Toronto-based freelance copywriter and editor with an MA in English Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Toronto. Her poetry has appeared in TOK: Writing the New City Book 4, Hart House Review, Kritika Kultura, and various Philippine literary journals.