The desire to be held looms large in T. De Los Reyes book of poetry And Yet Held. The fruition of that desire comes despite obstacles.
…you looked at me from
across the room in a way that made me feel held.
Oh, how I am but skin fragmented by touch, from
which a little flower blooms amidst all the wreckage.
And, having been found, waits to be kissed.
…Can you hold me when I am
unbearable and especially then. What I mean when
I say thirst is your eyes drinking me in, telling me
you’ll dig through bones and cinders just to be here,
wherever here is.
[excerpt, “Forest Fire”]
…Wasn’t I scared of dying
collision, accidental fires, earthquakes…
I am terror struck by the monster living under
And hadn’t you draped your shadow around
my shoulders saying, I will hold you, I will hold
you now and always…
And Yet Held is a love story with monsters and some of those monsters like the one named in “Umbra” reside in the narrator. In her seven-part poem “Monsters”, the poet deals with an all devouring and wild love which she compares to possibly a one-night stand that made the narrator feel the shame of racism and not being seen. The wild lover makes the narrator feel equally monstrous in a good way: “I am your/ leviathan among the woods” and unafraid of being seen: “No one can stop me/ from holding your hand,/ not even the demons that/ corrupt their heart.”
In this time where many poets, writers, and ordinary people speak of loneliness and heartbreak, this beautifully produced book with a hand touching flowers on its predominantly blue cover (Durham, NC: Bull City Press, 2024) explodes with the galactic light of love:
…What I love about a ship going
to deep space is the proximity near light
and darkness and the reluctant decay of
days and years. When you kiss me I forget
my name. I forget myself. I recognize only
the skin and bones that house this body.
Permission to disturb the gods in slumber.
Permission to scatter, as if hundreds of fish
the warm sea, as if an exploding star.
[excerpt, “Near Light”]
T. De Los Reyes, a Filipino poet and designer, is author of Woeman, a poetry chapbook. She has been published in such journals as Crazyhorse, Hobart After Dark, and Pleiades.