As the sun cauterized, the kites began their crumpled descent
from dragon to dithering rat, snaking at the ankles
of toddlers. Why now, from the balcony of another city,
am I thinking of you: diseased language,
that spit and crackled at me on the train. Men,
and women becoming men, thrummed
like light passing through a subway, picking up clicks
and swoops and flashes, where I was posed,
permanently, as a woman abroad. From my pilgrim’s lookout
I could watch how the wind jimmied
the remainders. Rustled the tarps. The only kite master still on the field
kicked at the falling animals, collected their strings, mourned
their ghosts. Only the lucky ones
catch a break of wind. Only I
can fly home for a summer. He paced between the two rams,
who had just been felled from their place above him.
He doesn’t speak to me, not in my dreams nor my solitude,
where I am in any-city, where I can choose what to remember:
a blonde head in the lake, glitter woven into a black sweater, 2.99 or maybe
cheaper, his headphones slung over one shoulder, Lucy at her desk
with impossible cheeks, Vincent sleeping above and around me, his honesty,
George’s concern, his fruit baskets, the snow that stayed for impossible
The kite master knows this: when we are formed by memories
and impatience, there will be nothing left to rummage through in the mud.
My student has her foot amputated / I meet you on the platform in Beijing
I’m thinking about your poem while trying to write my poem,
while trying to watch that movie about houses,
and when the phone rings, I’m thinking about phones,
for a minute, then I start thinking about how if light
were a number it would be 0, so that it could both
exist and still be a muddle. The train shuddered in like spring.
Like cells and flowers budding time-lapsed through snow.
I walked along the track as the faces became a dirty
swipe of grey. Once, I tried to capture your hand
opening inside my head, but no one would buy it.
I have come here again and again, editing, enhance, enhance,
trying to find your face in that unusable disaster.
They told our Li Xian, now club-footed,
that she can’t play like the others, can always only goalie, diving-
board dip, kitchen-table lean. She was only ten and they hung her necktie
from the flagpole. I can’t touch that phantom hurt. I can only swing at it,
speeding at the speed of zero, each minute you’re at work, each cell
that zooms, becomes music, becomes a pool of ink in all my brain’s dips
and swoops. When we come home and I still haven’t read the poem,
and it’s dark and you’re reading it to yourself, I hear myself in the other room
with you, simple and clear, praising that moment of peace in you.
Michelle Brown works as a copywriter and poet in Toronto. Her poetry has been published in journals such as CV2, Arc, and The Malahat Review. She was recently shortlisted for CV2 ’s Young Buck Poetry Prize.