you will know she is a poetess if she likes to wear long-sleeves long-sleeves that hide the scars long-sleeves that hold her bruised arms together long-sleeves with a slit near the shoulder where she tried to wear her heart (but poured it out in ink instead)
she will have long hair or walk like she does because hair is memory cutting it is like erasing yesterday's you restyling it is like recreating you. her hair will have leaves in it and leftover twine from the flower crown she wears or if she is the daring kind her hair will have silverdust (proof of how close her words got her to the moon)
if she smiles and laughs and never shows pain she is a poetess because a poetess writes her hurt down in free verses and half-finished sonnets and she cries not on a boy's shoulder but on paper where her tears are caught by the swooping syllables and dauntless denotations making her words come alive (because where there is water, there is life)
if you meet a person and assume she is a poetess check first her palms (if she will show them to you) they must show no sign of ink (for a poetess is sometimes secretive) no, you must be able to trace the constellations along the creases of her palm smell the rocket smoke and see the nebulae dotting her flesh where she managed to catch stars. congratulate her and maybe, she will lift the hem of her long pearl blue skirt and show you the wings on her ankles and if you're lucky, she will tell you story upon story upon story.
if you are able to tell a poetess from a person and you find her, keep her. keep her close to where the drums of your soul beat from keep her next to your dreams of sailing and pink seas keep her in the mental list you keep of people you will never, ever leave (and she will keep you, too)
when she dies, wrap her body in a white Ilocos blanket. use no coffin. let the earth swallow her up (but don't let it swallow her words) tend to the fire she left you plan to set out on a quest to look for other word-weavers because it is impossible to live without these storytellers then go back to her writing desk touch the last thing she held and look for a hole a false drawer a hidden key anything that keeps. and i promise you, you will find more poems. and if you spread each page out on the floor its letters will rearrange and form your name and point you to a poem hidden in a pocket she sewed inside her coat and the first line will read,