in the hall (a poem)

by Maria Theresa Louise Bautista, Age 19, Philippines

 

in the hall

when you saw me in the hall and decided to look away–

i’d like to know if it took you every single muscle to ignore
my raisin-rage lips,
and the subtle startle that shook
my sunflower dress,
that fit terribly with the stress
as i went on with the choice to pursue the opposite direction

i’d like to know if your knees got weak,
if your pulse tried to break your wrists,
if it felt like a mass jailbreak in your chest
or if your breath grew shorter than the lashes on your eyes
you feared might fall off with twitches of panic

i’d like to know if there was a sign of emergency in your pupils,
if the colour of your lips faded, lost blood
if you swallowed the heartbeat that caught in your throat
or if your feet unlearned how to walk,
the rest of your body static

in my peripheral vision i was intrigued
by the calm i saw on your face
and bothered with the way your silence wailed the indifference
through the layer of nothing, so visible, it made me flinch

when the walls have buzzed and the floor has reached focus,
the hall narrowed down to a single lane,
more than sad, i must say i was rather impressed
with how you made it past me just by looking away

*

Maria says: “At the age of nine, I was already joining regional literary competitions. I have always been into poetry and short story writing. I would like to pursue a career in creative writing someday.”

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