Tell the story straight: you thought you were in love with someone
else. Too late you found you were wrong, and
your first love became a Cheshire cat. Does it matter
when this happened? Only the why remains: you.
Tell the story straight: you spent a single season abroad
with a broad mind: searching for depths, smashing
your fist—again and again—against its riverbed,
not even a drop on your wrist, just slick knuckles.
Tell the story straight: not much happened. Once,
you cried on the subway because you knew:
how stories and chapters appear only in books—
no pauses to catch your breath, no mythology.
Tell the story straight: The subway doors closed
and you bent your head, not praying but
wanting to find yourself outside
your body in a land you didn’t know.
Tell the story straight: how everything, always, returns.
It’s nighttime. You are going home for the first time,
alone. The Metro doesn’t run much
this hour, so you stand on the platform,
the only one out this late, but you never know
what is waiting under walkways
or behind shadow. You crane your neck,
wanting to scream into the tunnel’s open mouth
to see what it would do. The sonic waves
and worlds you could construct:
the car to your stop, humming into place,
your own voice met by its cry;
the hot breath it expels,
its twin eyes appearing around the corner,
breaking up the dark, exposing
brick and track, the station name
—Lyulin—stretching the wall, looking like
an apparition and then gone
just as quickly. The train disappears,
and, later, when you have walked blocks
to this apartment you have claimed,
you breathe in. You exhale.