After Algebra by Christie Suynato

A part of me fell through the gaps
between iron bars of a manhole at Rue Bucherie,
coated with rust
like powdery pixie dust, but
I had not left enough laughter there.

Another part got stuck between
pastel-shaded shards
that crown my father’s bamboo chopsticks.
Sharp as Sunday mornings, unended endings that
remind me oddly of Ikea and waking up in a hotel room.
Of a West Jakarta kind of childhood.

I sometimes look for Venus in the mirror
behind my toilet door, three years older than me.
Most often she isn’t there.
Other times she hugs me.
She smells like old sea and spices
and I can’t feel her skin. Only mine,
smooth in its coarseness. Sawdust.

It’s hard to imagine why
I need calculus to study English.
Why I need
derivation for my salvation.

Limbs burnt from Venetian sun,
face lathered in butter, sprinkled with cinnamon,
still underneath the fabrics I’m white as sand.
Though I’m not made of color spectrums,
I hope I can still glow.

Funny. Difficult.
Burning.
Still,
my pursuit of happiness.