Box-cut daydreams bleed me dry
all night. First rung of the ladder.
One step forward, two steps back
Burning my skullcap. Dare I say
I shoved a child’s dead body there
One day. Third rung of the ladder.
Sometimes, at night, I croon your
Name. It echoes and gets lost and
Never finds its way back home. I
have fears I lose myself the same
That if you say my name with too
Much yearning, I wind up never
Returning. Seventh rung but if I
Jump, will I be caught or will I be
Hung? This beating drum I call a
cornea is tearing from the flared
Lens. My compendium is full of
Pop culture and mental health
Scares. There’s no room for wit
or knowledge that never ends nor
Begins. I need to call a friend but
I fear they won’t answer after
The twelfth rung. I feel I must
Feel better soon like everyone
Else who has mustered the nerve
to move on. But I wonder if these
Ladders I am on are truly leading
Me up. Or am I taking myself
Down and I don’t know it. But to
Be real, I think I know it. Fifteen
Years old feels too long ago and
I know I should be growing up
But time has stopped and the kid
I said I killed, he’s still alive.
Sorry, I lied. Eighteenth rung of
The ladder. Feel the weight give
In. Pull my weight. Give up. Let
Go of one hand. The other one.
Will I be caught or hung? Let up.
One last time. Shake, crack, then
Final rung. Then final rung.
Aidan Reuel A. Bernales
Aidan Bernales is an 18-year-old Filipino writer from Cebu City. He is the Editor-in-Chief of Ateneo de Cebu’s Molave and is a part of the school’s theatre, debate club, and student council. He has songs on Spotify and a poetry account on Instagram.