A portrait from before you fell in & out of love

by Noreen Ocampo


Smearing crushed blackberries across old

wounds, my fingers purple, curl, & claw


into skin. I shatter my morning teacup along

the edge of the table as the fruit trickles, & you


wince at each china fragment’s tiny, jarring screams.

(I am sorry for the trouble.) You do not love me


yet — I wonder if you will, someday & somehow,

even if I am like this, shattering china & scalding


myself with sugarless tea. This morning, your hands

are how I know them: silent, guiding buttered toast


into purpled fingers, unafraid despite how they

curl & claw — still silent as they pour me a new


cup of tea & stir in milk to coax out the bitterness.

You are always coaxing out the bitterness. Someday,


my fingers will remain pale, & we can share morning

tea together. I hope to see you still seated at the


breakfast table then, even though you do not

love me yet — I wonder if you ever will.



Noreen Ocampo is a Filipina American writer and student at Emory University. In the future, she aims to work in the intersection of storytelling and education, and her poetry appears or is forthcoming in Marías at Sampaguitas, 3 Moon Magazine, and Royal Rose, among others.





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