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— Cathy Linh Che

Sundays, my parents drink a single can of beer. Is this love,
I think. To share what is bitter one evening of the week.

To understand so little of each other, but to stick around?
I’ve wept over someone as gone as the stars that flecked the sky

in Joshua Tree three years ago. He said I’d stripped him bare.
Sometimes, my cousin placed his finger there. Some days,

memory won’t go. Some days, I feel whole. When
the stars burned off, we were left with desert heat.

He slept alone in the tent as I hid in the car to write. He looked
uncomfortable, knees bent in sleep. Mornings, I gazed

at his face to lock it there. Reproductions I’d flyered across
each calendar square. My life a series of revolutions, the world

spinning, adding up to thirty-five. He was awake on the planet’s
opposite side. I saw the moon huge above the horizon. In Seoul,

the moisture hung like damp rags in a laundry room.
My nails were freshly painted some god awful hue.

I unattached a single drop of sweat from his neck.
The blazing orange of the sky in Malaysia

he couldn’t bring himself to watch.
He just ordered another beer to share.

Things have a way of cycling. Perhaps it was Sunday
and I thought we could become my parents.

I kissed and nursed his indifferent body.
He no longer held me in sleep.

I saw our star implode, the dark energy
that compresses light into the nothingness

of the irrecoverable past. He didn’t notice my nails.
I want to collapse what we were, fold it all the way in.

It is difficult to end a poem
with the word pain.


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