On Exhibit

 

1. The best poets I know have lines on their faces, marking the years lost, gained. Their eyes are dull. Most of the time, I would not guess that they are able to laugh, to smile. They are ignored. They don’t fade into the background because they are the background. There is nothing to fade into but themselves.

 

2. Most people prefer attention, mastering how to claim possession of a room just by walking into it. I have been wondering what is worthy of pride — timeless exuberance, maybe?

 

3. It was etched in a book, or overheard in a conversation. This rule, my sharp awakening: those who are beautiful don’t have the same markings on their foreheads. People who actually think have creased their skin with thoughts. This, however, is not their choice.

 

4. I, of course, would rather be beautiful and brilliant. The best of both worlds. One is a birth right, another is a cross to bear.

 

5. Some days, I believe I am, and I laugh at my own bashfulness. Most days, I am neither.

 

6. At least some could revel in their pains. There is something so exquisite in hurting when it is told well, dressed in adjectives and metaphors that never exaggerate — for the metaphors will always just approximate, we could never quantify torture. We don’t know half of their stories.

 

7. If not written well, suffering just seems pathetic.

 

8. The rest have page upon page written about and for them. Most of them don’t know because they don’t read.

 

9. I look for them everywhere.

 

10. On the bus, on the train, in the jeepney. A girl in an ugly plaid polo shirt sits in front of me, her hair flying in the wind. I wonder if she once wanted immortality. If she still wants it. If she still feels its call deep within her dark, splotched skin.

 

11. A man in a ratty wife-beater passes me silver coins, mumbling a destination. He looks tense. I feel envy for he knows where he wants to be. Meanwhile his eyes rove the vehicle, and I clutch my bag just a little tighter.

 

12. Where are these people. Who are these people. Why do they interest me like this, far more wildly than that gorgeous girl in school with the cropped haircut, or that glamorous daughter of some movie star always flanked by guys, like dogs trailing her scent?

 

13. I have grown afraid of mirrors. I have no choice but to accept what they show.

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