golden hour

so it’s true then, that anything can sound
casual, if delivered like a weather report
i think it might rain later and
i think this is it for us
you talk about sunsets and sunrises

like chatting about times of the day
as if they are only weather, and i wonder if i should nod
along, like i have not spent a lifetime
grappling for allegories, foraging
for metaphors to squeeze myself into

there is something heavy about carrying so many words
rearranging them, hoping to gouge out poetry
lugging backpacks of language to mountain peaks
cast them at the horizon
at clouds and lakes and the sun, oh

always the sun
i will be the first to watch it rise one day and
when a strand accidentally stumbles on the cusp of my scars
for a fractured second i will think of you
for a moment this light will belong to you

i picture you at the bar
november, hair flaxen from your single malt echo
before the sun vibrates to soak the sky
swathes me in a glow so soft i forget the metal
of your words, to realise

i have always been this golden

sleeping at last

instead of telling _ i miss him
i write yet another letter he will never read
say, i know this is getting old, i‘m sorry
but also kind of not
, because you are so oblivious
to the stack of envelopes beneath my pillow

how long? before you forget me like your high school french
perhaps there are a certain bulk of our memories
that must keep watch in this world
so the more you work to discard them
the more they are thrust into my opaque heart

but last night i dreamt of myself in ten years
she tells me about kisses in the rain, at the tops of ferris wheels
of single red roses at candlelit dinners
i will be written into these moments one day
and i will put down _’s pen, never to pick it up again

funny how, someday this will all seem so youthfully foolish
when falling in love won’t have hurt so much
there will no longer be a need for unsent mail
someday when we have found new bodies to fall asleep against
this can finally all be put to bed

queen of the night

inspired by a film i recently enjoyed, Crazy Rich Asians

come find us, somewhere east of queens
in the spot the sun favours most
where there is so much to say i wish i had two tongues
and secrets are never held for more than a second

let me show you the art of dumplings
fill the insides with filial piety
wrap it in something other than an american flag
and press the edges together, tight

hey now dear, can’t you hear the mahjong sirens?
know that when you next draw the eight of bamboo
and the church finally floods again
i will have found the winning hand

last night i memorised your eyes against a backdrop of stars
so i could recognise you, even in another universe
tonight the tan huas will finally bloom
let me kiss you one last time, until they wilt

tell me one of these days, we’ll board a bus, miss our stop
on purpose, and another ten after that, to a place
where we can take as many times as we need to fall in love right
without anyone ever knowing

spring cleaning

spring in this city always has me blooming
pollen, an aphrodisiac that waters my eyes
last night i let myself dream for the first time since the flowers frosted
and when i woke up the sunlight had already chilled
it keeled at my feet, a field of canola someone forgot to harvest

i think, i must be growing
the other night i drank until i thought it was a good idea
to lie down on a train track i was only half sure was abandoned
and still, i didn’t speak your name
it must have something to do with this mown grass balm

my muscles, no longer straining to pull my lips into a curve
the heart, still sprinting, but now with a destination
in mind, my brain entertaining hobbies other than second-guessing
and tongue and teeth, both have finally stopped jostling for space
to remind my mouth it should sometimes try speaking

i let juvenescence oscillate so urgently against my palms
my mother tells me
hey young one, it’s ok to squander your youth sometimes
so i make the mistake of falling in love over and over
just to remind myself some things never change

but i will have a daughter one day, and i will name her after this season
the way my mother was named for all the promise a tender bud cradles
i will teach her about vivaldi, and monet, and woodsworth
give her petals to scatter with every step she takes
so she can always find her way back home

fantasies of when we meet again

one, i see you on the streets
maybe when you were just on your way to the gym
and i was only in town to visit my sister
it is impossible to pass as strangers when
i can forget everything, but never your silhouette
you call out to me, in a voice that unravels all the knotted time between us
and i am 18 again

two, we talk about the weather
i describe every drop of rain that’s fallen
and you count the number of clouds in the sky
until we both run out, until there is nothing left to say
but for me to ask if there is a her
you say there haven’t been any since, and i ask why
because they weren’t you

three, i tell you about the poems
and you see yourself in every dotted i, every crossed t
you ask if i ever wrote about anyone else
yes, but not in this way, not on this scale
you are the face of all my heartbreak
and i’ve wrung every second we had together dry
the other girls – did they ever write for you?

four, we catch up over coffee
you drink it black now, but i still opt for mochas
and every time the cup empties we find another reason for a refill
time must have softened our pride, smoothed out our clumsiness
we’ve never welded so well together
take a walk in the dark, fighting temptations with pocketed fingers
you ask me to keep talking, so you don’t have to confront my still lips

five, you finally admit to realising your mistake
stopped drinking for risk of dialling my number
how your heart still flinches when you meet someone who shares my name
twitched at your cowardice for not reaching out
but hated it more for letting me go at all
you think it’s safe to confess, because there is a diamond on my finger
and we haven’t spoken in years

six, i tell you i wish you’d called
because up until the second i told him yes, i would have picked up
you apologise for being too late, and there is a swollen silence
a moment, where my ring has never felt tighter
there is no time for logic, consideration
but i have never been sane when it comes to you anyway, so i say
better late than never

please, don’t you see? we can’t not end up together

red light

waking up, a head beside yours
(blame salome if you must)
and you know it was not a dream
him, hand spanning the length of your insecurities
and you, starving enough to accept even stale attention

afterwards, take two showers, one after another
vanilla and raspberry milk
scrub his handprints from your body
but your skin still wears like smudged glass
still smeared with cigarette streaks

woman, when did your love become so cheap?
waste tom ford on his goon-flavoured lips
a marathon body on his unwashed hands
phds on his patriarchal mind
he slurs that you’re pretty, and you tell him you love him

how many more needle pricks before the wound is stitched
how many more cheap thrills to hit your self-worth
look at you, so tired of the scratch of black lace
volunteering yourself as an answer
to questions he never had the right to ask

tell yourself you feel cherished this way
but i know you haven’t ever felt cheaper
he breaks in, and you thank him for visiting
letting them take you, have you, own you
never asking to stay, to be kept

call it selfless, if nothing else

the fifteenth hour

this was a gentle kind of love
a love that would lie down next to me
spend the entire night, and never once ask
for my lips, my mouth, to do anything
other than talk, about
myself, the world, tomorrows and ever afters

this was an ethereal kind of love
taught me that love can exist in places other than
dipped waists and clasped lips
found instead, in the melodies of rondos
the way you speak about literature
how you hope for a world so soft

but this was a fleeting kind of love
a mayfly, a daylily
one where you couldn’t stay and i had to leave
the prelude of a love where the rest belonged
to another life, an alternate universe
and we were given only a fifteen-hour preview

or maybe this was not quite love yet
but rather its precursor
whatever love is, this was its seed
its origin, what could eventually have grown into love
the way all flames were once just a spark
if only i had chosen to follow, or you had decided to wait

i wish this was a love i could have fallen into
you, a someone i would have loved
but i can only thank you now, for appearing in my life
a reminder there are still boys out there worth loving
thank you, for letting me know
i can still love someone more than him

because oh, thank god i can