“I am a lantern. You are a lantern.”
And peel like wallpaper this distance. And sit beside you conjuring
a litany of snow globes, snowing on every place I’ve ever loved you. Trail mix
for two, but mostly chocolate, and a backpack with so, so many pockets.
One for each year we’ve left our bodies to burn in the hearth
of supposed kindness. One for each year we’ve ripped into
our own caught breaths. One for every mouth unzipped heavy down my back,
the nervous fireworks of your spine. For every croaked bone, dusted sediment,
the salted wind, our stained lungs. For each summer I didn’t believe myself.
For every winter we walled tenderness against our chests and prayed
the dam would hold. Let me take it, all of it. And carry it. How an ostrich
carries her own wings even when the desert is everywhere
and the lake nowhere to be seen. Cool, feathered, tall, long-necked,
flapping bird. Even if they do not believe—fine. I am an ostrich.
You are an ostrich. We’ve never even heard of flightless.
This isn’t about two lovers, unless
those two lovers are present me, in love with
future me, in the core of the earth, in a pigeon dress,
cooing softly to myself, as a pigeon would,
if that pigeon were suffocating in some glass box
it can’t break through, no matter how much
pecking it does, the weight of so many feathers
scraping uselessly against the bluest notes
of the past it wallows in yet can’t actually
remember, like a rushing river that crushes rocks
just a little bit every day, but when you ask
the rocks, they always say, no I’ve always been
this smooth and tumbly, why would I want
to escape such beauty, this skin, this skin,
I feel so young again. I see angels, too,
when I forget myself. And hold 光.
And remember my body outside my body.
I sleep covered in flowers, a string of diamonds,
my hair pressed flat against me, long feathered dress,
I watch myself step out into the swirling tents,
but I am only this wound on my neck,
I clawed my way out to be here with you,
I tell my other self, the one in the box, walked through
this door dressed down to the lightest
pink in the dying light of a sun far enough away
to find my color again. I boarded the canoe
to the center of the world, prayed to become whole there.
And found you. Hitotsu ni wa narenai. Fantôme,
pulse of you, song of me, I know we can start over.
Sono uchi ni distance mou. Yappari, I need to be with you.
Hikki, today, oishii mono o tabeyou.
Give up my plans and slink back to my body.
I find my patronus in the dark forest of my iPhone,
so I know how slippery I can be.
When I wave my wand, a tortoise shell cat emerges
and doesn’t cooperate with me.
Go fight my demons, I say. They are killing me,
they’re telling me I have no business being myself.
Ghost cat turns away and rubs her chin on things.
You are abandoning me and my happiest memory, cat,
I say. Who cares if it’s a dream. This is what hikari mean,
cat says. Hikari in me, hikari in you. Never anywhere else.
Turn off television, look only at me tonight.Cat returns to my wand.
You still kira kira patronus. Wake from this dream. Lose nothing.
Kazumi Chin is the author of Having a Coke With Godzilla (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2017). He works to build loving communities with marginalized people, to put language to the mechanisms of structures and identities, and to create spaces and tools that allow others to do the same. He is interested in scholarship at the intersection of art-making and critical theory, and has a profound love for maps, spreadsheets, algorithms, taxonomies, simulations, and also poetry & the mythical power of true friendship.