The Dock

No one wants to go near the lake 
that swallowed two more boys

this year. Sad story, yes, but we’re thankful 
to have a pretty place to be discreet.

Not saying a basement can’t be pretty, 
and don’t get me wrong, I am a fan

of the mass-produced hotel art,
the same photo hanging above each bed

makes it easier to pretend each new room 
is still our room, makes me crave a life

of dull decor and basic cable, makes my mouth 
water, really. I bite the lips off of a Styrofoam cup

and spit them at the ducks that swim past.
Wait. Don’t eat that. Fuck.

This is the first time I hear him laugh out loud. 
With him, there are few noises I can recognize.

A fly lands on his cheek and I try to brush it 
away, but before my hand can cast

a shadow on the bridge of his nose,
the fly burrows into him. He doesn’t flinch,

just winks—and now there’s one on his knee, 
and another lands in his dimple, one on each

eyelid. There are hundreds now, all digging 
or moving underneath his skin, all bubbling

behind that firm smile. His eyes begin
to vibrate, and he doesn’t reach for me. He doesn’t

need me here, really. I am no expert, or exorcist, 
or great love. I am just another boy sitting

an arm’s length away from someone he doesn't recognize 
in the light. He opens his mouth and they all fly out,

not a swarm, but a single-file line, a thin braid of black
hair, the longest exhale from a sinking car—That’s it.

There. That’s the noise I’m so familiar with.

From This Way to the Sugar (Write Bloody Publishing, 2014) by Hieu Minh Nguyen. Copyright © 2014 by Hieu Minh Nguyen. Used with the permission of the author.