LONG STORY SHORT

joyce liu

i want you to remember me like this —
god prey white light halcyon
bodies outlined in ink
the vertebrae of my spine a landscape beneath your hand,

these veins a map to your heart,

a moon to plant a windless flag on. look,
these, our wrists, lit like matches. look,

they’re burning black.
there’s a branch from your apple tree pressing against the window

and it wants a piece of the show.
the only way to tell this story is in fragments.

it is possible to lie next to me and tell the truth,

but you have to work for it.

 

we stopped working a year ago.

this is what happens when the lights are off:

cotton mouths pillowing each other,

fluttering lungs,
this oppressive heat gasping above me,

reaching for breath.

i wake up drowning in acrid air.
beside me, an empty expanse.
you could spend an entire life reaching and your hands would still close on flaccid duvet,

not that i’ve tried or anything.
this is what the math teachers call extrapolation;
i call it waiting for the tendons to snap.
if it doesn’t break you it’s a gift
a story you get to write ten thousand different ways.

how long can you reach for something and still not get it?
when do our hands get tired of holding expectations instead of each other?

the difference between stabbing and surgery is intent.
i want you to break me again,
but i don’t think you could do it.
you could reach for my neck and i’d still tilt my head so your fingers fit better,

but you haven’t reached for anything of mine in a long, long time.

 

 

Joyce Liu (she/her) is a young Chinese-Canadian poet from Ontario. She particularly enjoys writing prose poetry and her work encompasses the themes of love as self-destruction, the loneliness of atheism, and the repeating motif of blackbirds. Some of her work features a direct, almost incisive tone, while other pieces are wistful or hollow. Like many writers, Joyce enjoys exploring human relationships and our complicated emotions about love, yearning, and letting go. When she's not writing, Joyce reads for the Aurora Journal and Ogma Magazine. Joyce's pieces have appeared in perhappened mag, FEED, and poetically, with work forthcoming in superfroot and All Guts No Glory. A complete list of her publications can be found at joyceliu.carrd.co.

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