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nocturnes in the rain

— Sarah Fathima Mohammed

outside the restaurant, rain slicks red brick
with its leaving. the girl & i lean
against this wall, watching maple trees bow

their heads as if trying to sing—
the gesture small but certain. a man
pulls out of the parking lot in his small red car,

turning off the headlights to ride
into the dark, his hands steering
themselves. the engine

weeping. for years i covered
my ears while i spoke,
afraid of what i might discover if i listened.

sometimes sound gives us too much:
like how across the street a man
with dark hair & pale skin plays

the nocturnes of chopin on a street
piano, squeezing his eyes
shut, as if remembering.

in every song he plays
i, too, find something
in myself: the girl—each note a crease

of soft skin—her fingers still clinging
to my coat. each note a blue vein
inside her wrist rippling like water.

what a child learns when bathing
themselves for the first time:
how to wake, to see the body’s want

for what it is—what it has been. the girl presses
her cheek against mine.
for the first time, i understand why

i move closer,
my lips grazing her neck.


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