In this one, I lose
it. It hasn’t left
the grain of old photos,
at the spoon of my throat,
on a red thread
or, on a gold mariner
immaterial in the reaching
gasp of the beautiful
stranger who shoves her arm
through the pipe drain’s pubic
hairs and shampoo
only trying to help, then
the way a ruddy pebble always
purses its self into the boolean
no, transcendent of language.
No. It’s not there either.
Let it be stolen,
thrumming on skin
somewhere, just not here anymore.
If I vision it laureled
in sewage, I want to spit
and never stop spitting —
the portent of object - spit -
the negligence of my eyes - spit -
turning away into dustbowls,
dumb-founded in this wet dawn,
naked bodies placid
among gurgling wash-pits and I
prying vents, peripheraling others’ plastic
baskets. Another circle where I last
unclasped it, to bathe.
Do you have anything else of her?
A crate of clothing and paper leaves,
from when she was at the end
and couldn’t speak. At least
constant livid search for sense
in remainder, until finally
I’m honeying on the warm floors
prone, quiet. Someone turns
pages next to me,
voices fibrillating into almost language
save for the puncture
of Korean, English, the woman
who tuts in Mandarin
Your husband is out of control
to her companion and
how I want to crawl there and be held,
for them to fissure
boiled eggs on my forehead
to share, yellow and white
crumbing joy out of our teeth
because with them I find it,
the necklace, seized
so tightly in my palms as to sprout
root underneath, metastatic.
I don’t want to write about that.
Watching those hands in the mirror
tulip, so carefully. Tool,
perform this season. The telephone wires
were like spider silk yesterday down the hill.
That must be worth something.
Now I’m going to write about you.
I will make this you
hazy, so the wound of specificity
is only windchime, airless wind
in the cavity I sat in for years, in disbelief
that the world could still feel taken from you,
even when you didn’t want it in the first place.
Tulip. Its head pastel and heavy
on the ground, the sweetest plague.
I had hoped to fit it with a sheet
as they do for aftermaths,
but you put it on the dashboard, pink
shuttering over every speed bump.
where you don’t, eyes
tightening towards half-dusted morns,
in what you eat, how you shower.
I can’t believe how often you shower.
You must be trying to rinse the rust away,
offering them to me as if it’s altruism.
Touch them, you say. Slip them on,
and I give. I spackle parfum
behind the ears
the way you like, to temple
the floe of meat. So that you’ll take me along,
as if you have a choice.
As if we haven’t been together, in this petal heap
since long ago. There are still times
when I become adamant
in salt, and shove grief up
through our mouth, how it comes out
drooling. You hate when I do that.
But I am mostly dun these days,
in where I step, why I rise.
Air is no longer a drip.
And I rarely consider duct tape’s potential
to suffocate. The tulips bend
then expire in clusters. See?
you say, smiling. I told you.
Xiao Yumi (小玉米) is a painter, writer, and daughter of diaspora currently based in Los Angeles, CA, whose honours include an Academy of American Poets Prize, NUCL Creative Writing Award, and placement as a 2019 Frontier OPEN finalist. She can be found here.