Fastened V

Weeks again of patient blues.

You folded down
into yourself.

You could bear no voice, 
no face
but your own.

Not even mine,
which you said you loved.

The old films you watched without sleep, 
you muted.

You looked from a distance
at figures on the screen:

two lovers
beneath the tracks
standing just apart, entirely themselves
like figures undersea.

Salt gathered on their faces…

And then the days
you leapt out of widening
doors, from passageways, taking me
by the hand outside.

It was a new world.
It had an astral underside.
It was starry all over.  
You were something very young.

That night, I stood in the kitchen
with its ticking faucet.
You slept
in your boatful of dreams.

Water kept coming in,
going out, 
leaving me alone
with the voice of my mother.

Old kernel of a voice.
It was saying Stay, for love.
It was saying Love, stay.

From Unearthings (Tavern Books, 2018). Copyright © 2018 by Wendy Chen. Used with the permission of the author.