Punnett Squares

Cecile Afable



Things unilluminated. Things unseen.

The tinderspark from matches

burning out on the front porch

of the house I cried to leave.

I could not find my way

back if I tried, not without

your smoke signals—

twenty years gone.


With phoenix lungs you

survived in the dragon’s mouth.

What else is the immigrant in America, if not

another mythical creature?


I have inherited your every habit.

Books upon books

and never enough shelves,

the way I can’t help

but turn my blood into ink,

after dark tobacco

blurring the starlight.


I wear my heart on my sleeve,

because that’s where it fits.

Because you taught me

that survival is

difficult always but beautiful often.



Cecile Afable is a Filipino-American writer who was born in the Catskill mountains of New York state and has subsequently lived in central Massachusetts, Boston, Grenoble, and the Ardèche region of France. She spends a lot of time thinking about the history and evolution of language. Afable is one half of the renga project at halfemptyhalfdangerous.com, and you can find her on instagram @ars_poetica_et_cetera.