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by Bea Bolongaita


My mother, silent in the front seat. I must consume the emptiness. Stuff it under my tongue. Stretch my limbs, cover every empty parking space, hide the lines beneath the folds of my back. I am huge. If there was an earthquake, everything would rise and fall and tuck itself back into place. Bodies lain against the cold expanse of concrete. Just as it was. And we would keep spinning, feet cemented onto the circular platform, noses forever rosy and eyes painted wide.

Forgive me. I like looking into windows, I like pretending they belong to the matchbox houses which lined Tita Cora’s mantel every Christmas Eve. Little matchbox cars in the autobody. Little bags of saline in the Red Cross blood depository. I never stopped wanting to live in a matchbox house. So I turn my head on its neck whenever we pass a house aglow.

I spot familiar sets. Is the family portrait above the fireplace like ours? You could see inside those little matchbox houses, scenes of little families making bread and eating turkey at a grand table, suspended in gold-yellow light richer than thick resin.

I want to absorb it all. But my eyes are too small to stay open.


Bea Bolongaita is a Filipina-American poet. Her writing appears or is forthcoming in The Pinch, Whale Road Review, and elsewhere. She has been recognized by the Ohio Poetry Association and is an editorial associate at The Kenyon Review. Bea's debut chapbook, The Tomato Woman, will be published by Sunset Press in May 2023. She studies Political Science and Chinese at Kenyon College.


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