by Tiffany Thomas

You get good at letting go.
You help him sort through a house of relics;
maneuvering amongst squat towers of flagship papers
from port cities
whose names he used to know.
He cannot read them,
but he cannot throw them out.
You get good at letting go,
They surface sometimes—
the portraits of the girls you loved
and the records of the secrets
you swore always to keep
that now you can’t remember—
the first survivors of a flooded basement.
Faces warped and ink blurred
floating to the surface,
you can’t make them out anymore.
there are letters too,
innumerable envelopes to sift into order,
the senders mostly dead,
the recipient halfway there.
You think about throwing yourself over
and letting the ocean freeze you through
and spit you out
shaking, and waking,
in a land that suits you better,
You sort the papers first
by Atlantic and Pacific—
the oceans he once left them by.
It is the smells that go first.
Then the touch—the names—
still you think you might hear a voice
but at the end,
the faces.
You get good at letting go
and then you get better.