Look what you’ve done

Created space to breathe
but space between two bodies
allows for someone else to intrude
to take my place
to take my name

Tales of this phenomenon have the same ending:
it does not exist.

All this space and time
to reconsider everything
to re-evaluate your options
as if alternatives never persisted
as if alternatives never existed, period

Yet you still longed for the room
to move as one with the distance
it can only grow further from here
I can feel us slipping
but maybe I’m wrong
maybe it makes us stronger,

The confidence of having no second thoughts
you cut ties without hesitation,
pushed me to the point of non-existence
as if co-existing meant nothing to you,
left me hanging on my only lifeline

All this space and time
breathing the same oxygen as my anxiety
worries like carbon dioxide
my atmosphere is always clouded
deep breaths no longer help me

I breathe in the pressure
and they say that creates diamonds
but this builds to the point of the heaviest of rainfalls
and ashes,
soul resting in pieces
they blow away in the wind

You didn’t have to lie

I don’t think you comprehend
the repercussion of your sugar-coated words
never taste as sweet as they sound
sugar scarring my insides
stomach shredding at the process
that wasn’t the only thing you left broken

You should be sorry

Asking me where I was when you needed me years ago
implies you didn’t need me now
or when you wanted to level up the ranks

This was never a game in the first place

But the level before the last was a true test of your bravery
yet the heart of a lioness was too much to face
sheepishly turning away from your chance at being the first victor

Are you satisfied with yourself for making it this far?

You were the only one to have fought this hard for this long
then let go
and give up

Are you still satisfied?



We were at peace in the meadows
fingers grazing the tips of the grass
outlining the sharpness of our edges
you kissed the sun with my lips
and made a bed with the flowers

I continued to chase this dream as you laid there
wide awake beside my oblivion
until your body could no longer handle the static
the numb unknowingness of your own limbs,
scared of the beat of your own heart
your soul left alongside your corpse

I woke up in a bed whose weight was filled
with only the imprint of your body
but I can still feel your heart beating
I can still feel your arm around me
cradling me
the memory hit me so vividly

But it can never replace the feeling
of your warmth radiating between the sheets
so I lay there in full consciousness
paralyzed to the fact that you went missing
I close my eyes again in hopes of dreaming
of the sun

I caught a glimpse of gray
a sluggish figure pushing both feet forward
restless but persistent on getting somewhere
its outline made out to be you
but his aura was dim
darker than I had last seen you

I observed from the distance
noticing the baggage you dragged along with you
witnessing you move along for days on end
mood never changing, only somber
slowly understanding why you left
before you could drag me along with you too

Many questions left unanswered
knowing I would have been your backbone
a lighthouse when needing guidance
though I realize this was never my battle to fight
I still wanted to be in your corner
but you never wanted me to be
so I just stand still
and wait

Time passes as my feet planted numb in the soil I stand on
watching your hands tick and feet move
to the pace of your heartbeat
it hurts to remember what that was like
and hurts to remember how strong my legs have been
all this time

So I wonder if you forgot about me already
not once have you remembered
how tall I stood
how firmly my feet have been planted
I wonder if you still care
or if you ever did
because he would have never left me
It seems that was the old you

Time continues to pass me by
until one day we meet at a crossroads
I’m standing at the edge of the meadow
you on the concrete in front of me
both waiting to see who crosses
the line




Curves full of body and soul,
are your hands whole enough to hold her?

Are they strong enough to not let her slip through the cracks of your fingers?
Do you see how much she carries between them?
How much power she holds in just the spaces?

She leaves them open
for you

But are your hands ready?
Are you willing to have knuckles crack at the expense of freedom,
willing to get your fingernails dirty,
willing to risk breaking bones
Are you willing?

Are you enough?

Are your hands delicate enough to cradle her heart
letting it pulse in your palms
transferring energy through your fingertips

Can you feel her pain?

Can you feel the number of times it has broken before you
its tears still in the process of healing
can you feel them too?
its beat emulating the syllables of lies she has heard before you
following a basic algorithm

Are you the one to solve this calculation?

Are you smart enough to decode her locks?

Maybe you can unlock her walls
revealing the bareness of something real

But will she let you?

Unknowing of the weight of it all
are you ready to catch her when she falls?

Are your hands bold enough to hold her back when she wants to chase danger?

What if she wanted to chase you?

What if she wanted to keep chasing you into tomorrow,
making each tomorrow better
so it feels like you’re forever living

Do you still want to hold her then?

What if forever is not enough for her
what if she wanted yesterday

So how about now?

Will you still be there to hold her tomorrow?

If she brings a tsunami will you offer your hand
or do you watch her drown in her own faults

But what if she brings the sun?
Do you hide yourself from chances at burning
or embrace her radiance

Endless possibilities with predictable reason
her energy fed with passion unlike another

Can you handle it?

She will always be more,
never empty
a continuous refill of might

A woman with such power holds the nerve
has the audacity to make a man question if he is
to hold

This power held not with her words
nor actions
but with a simple glare
that gleam in her eyes that asks,

Are you scared yet?
Are you enough?
Are you love?

But are you man enough
to let her know,

You are
You are not

The Rooted Series

Rooted: Dedication

This book is for the Filipino mothers whose voices have yet to be heard, that want to be heard, and those that are silenced. I hope that this book inspires us to keep having conversations among one another and among others as we are important too.

This book is for the mothers who feel that their voices have not been accounted for.

This book is for all of the women in my family. The ones that have pushed us out into the world and pushed us to be. You have taught us the secrets to happiness, love, and family. And for that, I will always be grateful.

Lastly, this book is for my mother, the strongest and most whole-hearted woman that I know. To you I am always rooted.

The Rooted Series

Rooted: Foreword

This is inspired by Rupi Kaur’s Milk and Honey. Though similar in form, the content is completely different.

This book started off as a final project for my midwifery course (an elective) MWF325: Birth and Its Meanings. Through the beginning process of coming up with the idea, I knew I wanted it to be something bigger than just a project for one of my classes.

I wanted to give light to the voices of the mothers in my family as it was difficult for me to find literature on the experience of Filipino mothers in childbirth. Though in poetry form, I felt that this project still contributes to a form of representation – and representation always matters.

I knew that family matters also mattered, so I collaborated with my cousin who is an artist. We always had plans of working together – me with my poetry and him with his artwork – but never knew what we could collectively produce. When this project came up, I knew I wanted us to put our talents together to create something.

With consent, I interviewed the mothers and fathers in my direct and extended family to ask about the experiences of their pregnancy and those of giving birth. Unfortunately, not every aunt or uncle agreed to interview, therefore they are not a part of this project.

I drew inspiration from the transcribed interviews to write the poems in this book. Through my poems, I gave my cousin the artistic freedom to illustrate. He used different art mediums such as pen, markers, and watercolour paints to create the illustrations for the book.

I categorized each chapter to represent the different stages of their experiences. I also separated the chapters into sections which detailed the experiences of each of my aunts and my mother. I chronologically ordered the sections in accordance to the Toquero family births. The “Reflection” chapter was written using quotes taken directly from the interviews and pieced together with my interpretation.