Exit Interview

— Emily Lee Luan

Whose love startles in these grey sheets?
An imprint of a body on a bed. Like memory,
the body gone, over the first step, then
the second, streaming into the beet-red
of summer. Rainwater spirals like so many
long necks, pools at street corners; birds,
like smoke, plume into the cavernous sky.
What else can house the longing of the living
but the leaves that greet rooftops in the way
a kiss meets the forehead of a daughter?
A neighbor leans out of a window, the blowing
wind reminding them of former homes. Oil
separates into its violet hues; an echo
returns in the stairwell.

How does she return, to the windowed
room, the elderly neighbor walking his daughter
up the stairs? Is it a homecoming when only
the oily leaves of the pothos spiral down
to greet her? Of course, the room seems more
cavernous without her living, her longing blowing
smoke into corners. Where she’s coming from,
she found the puddle of a barely-born bird, red
as a beet, in the path to the house, ants streaming
from its tiny neck. She stepped over it the first time,
but when she came back, it was gone. Standing
above the bed, she tries to remember the imprint
of her former body on the grey sheet. Who is
the bed?
she asks, Does it love me?

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