Words Apart

The mouse trap at the back of my throat

Snaps! And I gag before

I can tell you what I really want to say.

So much for last moments.

I hold your quivering hand while

A silent vein pulses near my temple.

While you are falling short of breath

I try to tell you all that I should have

In this rare lifetime we had


But the cage that bars my lips

Stays shut. And I struggle before

The floodgates finally open and I hear

Sobs that seem to pour forth from a

Body. Is it my own?


There is nobody around to take your place.

Nor will there be anyone, anymore

For that matter.

Yet short of goodbye and thank you, really,

Wasn’t there something better I could have said?

There are people I’ve known and people I’ve met,

And people like you I will never forget.

There are people I’ve met and people I’ve known,

And people like you whom I can call my own.

Yet short of goodbye and thank you, my love,

Till today I still think of so many things

I did not say enough.


Words may have been my way out –

They help me tunnel an exit out of an otherwise

Depthless cave, my labyrinth

I cannot escape.

And I have been the master of all these words

Yet I never knew what to say. In your presence

Where was I? Where were we but worlds apart?

How could I have told you

What I really felt? Without feeling like

A flatterer. A smatter of honeycombed words

That mean nothing, do nothing but sweeten.

Slander. A philanderer.


I have been both the former and the latter.

I never knew better. Till today

I never knew what to say.

I never knew what to say…


– Euginia Tan, Words Apart


Just finished Euginia Tan’s Playing Pretty. It had its hits and misses, but in general it was pretty decent. This was one of my favourite. Anyway do pick up a copy at Books Actually! Support local talent (:


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