In February, at the last minute, I joined the Spring 2023 Poetry Contest by Phoebe – the literary journal of George Mason University’s Creative Writing Program in Virginia. They announced the winner today, and while I didn’t win, I am beyond elated that a poem I wrote for Lia, was chosen as one of the finalists. I am as grateful as I was two weeks ago, receiving that email and squealing at midnight. My heart is full. This is still a big win.
When I began writing poems in earnest six months ago, I knew nothing about submitting to foreign publications, and neither have I submitted a piece to local publications in years. I was just fresh out of separation and at a loss for how to deal with the pain. Looking back at it all leaves me in utter disbelief. I’m a nobody from the Philippines. How is it fucking possible I am a finalist?
In the early days, my friend, Carissa, offered that maybe the reason the guy and I met was so I can rediscover my writing and get to where I need to be. It didn’t make sense to me. What a cruel thing for the Universe to do, I thought.
The night we parted, he sent me a movie clip of two friends saying goodbye at an Indian train station. One friend threw a red shawl to the other, her hand catching it as the carriage was about to speed off the tracks.
He told me, “Hold on to that red shawl, will you? It will keep you warm.”
“I will. Until the next train comes and leaves,” I said.
The other train has arrived. I am on it, thinking of the train we boarded and whose journey reached its end. Closed doors that lead to new ones. How, even if this closed door brought me storms, in a way I am also thankful for it. To hold something for a season and have it slip from your hands like air, to die and to rise from it – this is the nature of life. It’s scary and painful but also beautifully mortal, and I won’t have it any other way.
PS – Phoebe’s spring issue comes out next month. I can’t wait to read the amazing works in there and share the poem once it’s out!