07/23/17, 10:50pm

Excuse me, but I do believe we have met
before. There is simply something
about the way you walk, talk, move

with your shoulders thrust back
when you step and your neck crooked
forward when you focus. Your curls are ever so

slightly flattened on the side you slept on
this morning, though sometimes it is the back
after you leaned against both of the shitty thin pillows

and the blanket propped under
with a warm bag over your eyes to ease the ache
that is always there. I could never

understand how your eyes never fluttered
shut against your will, as did mine
to initiate our nightly routine

of apologies. Sometimes we both shivered
in cooled air with our insulation squashed
under and our will to change the controls encased

in a pool of wax from the end of your candle
we shared, which is to say, we would miss,
just as when I carried a stack

of poems across a park and they saw
a woman alone, just as when I brought
home a grapefruit torn

in fleshy abundance and tacked it
to the wall, let the juices weep
along the drywall, diluted blood

of my thoughts drowning<
in a cup; sometimes my best wine
sours to acetone, in certain company.

But perhaps then
we have not met, because the individual
I am thinking of has a smile that pulls

plump against flat teeth, eyes that crinkle
like aluminum foil around sandwiches
with far too much mayonnaise

for my liking. I eat pale food
only when in certain company. When alone,
I much prefer a riot of green

with enough salt that a person
like you would gasp
enough that I would season

our portions separately in the future,
back then. We have different tastes,
you and I. I do not thirst

for that same flesh. Kind sir, I do
forever, give you my best. I’ll take
that cake now, please, thank you.

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07/23/17, 11:31am

Sprung from your forgotten dreams, it came

in the morning, followed you from crooked bed to quick

turn of the doorknob, the eyes turned to the cool

grain away from the soft groan of his consciousness.

It trickled and pooled against the pads of your toes,

weighted your skin to acquiescing gel

into well-worn grooves. It vaulted

up into your mouth and churned the foam

rancid; you spat it out with tenderness

of habit, just like when you bid him Good

Morning to unsure silence fading back

onto itself. You still share the soap. Will you still

splash your face in the hectic mornings

as he showers, separated by white

muddied curtain and tamed by familiarity?

A tickle breaks long through the mane

of your calf and you wonder how

a drop possibly made it past

your fingers, holding guard at your budding

crows feet. Perhaps it distracted you

with its curiosity, kept you howling into the night

with laughter such that you did not know

that you’d somehow joined the wild dogs.

How sly it must have been. How much crying is too much

for the end of era that began not in the year of the Ox

but in that of Sheep, which Travel China Guide

and not your mother must tell you: the curve

of the ram and the hard corners of the ox

were never meant to groove. Maybe you should have

checked the legend, first, instead of believing

you knew the way more than did the statisticians

that came before you, the old women

of science who flourish of circles

and not infinite lines stretching past stars

you’re worried no one else sees.

This isn’t how you want to be:    mad

as predicted. Somehow they knew to give

you the codebook. Whose fault is this if they knew

you would tear it to shreds, trample it

with your wheels, light it with gas fire

from a shitty stove in a New York City apartment

only to find this: it has followed you into the gentle

illumination of a streetlight in an alley quiet enough

to be deafening though the cars are never too far.

What a blessing these slow moments are, you know

even as your body stings with the salt

on your bites. Nature gives needle and first aid.

You now know how to snip this particular type

of thread, the one that runs though one temple and out

the other, the last one. He will leave first,

as he does, and you will bike these streets

through and straight out. If all goes well,

you will return.

I don’t know how to explain how I’m feeling

other than that I just hung out with three people, one of which is a friend, and the other two of which are previous ‘co-workers’ who are really quite amazing and sweet, witty and confident and wonderful, and yet I can tell that there’s a distance between us, that I cannot be friends with them. And the question then is whether that is because of myself or because of the self I was at work, which was simply not the first impression that did me any favors, quiet and reserved as I was. It oscillates, to be honest: on a good day, I know with all my heart that I am a decent conversationalist though not an expert by any means, but a genuinely kind person, occasionally funny; on a bad one, I wonder how people that I so genuinely like and admire can so subtlety feel and subconsciously communicate that somehow, I am not the type of person they would like to spend time with two weekends from now. It’s not been a great few days. Hopefully being with friends, talking to friends — hopefully this weekend will turn things around.

As much as I wish otherwise, I seem to need socializing more than I tend to think.

the coming and going of civilization

As your friendship with AM slowly crumbles even after you’ve both identified the problem and actively work to hold each other up

As your long-distance conversation with JH dwindles to a reluctant phone call and you haven’t sent each other music in forever

As you sit on a park bench and sigh and RK lets it slide by

— you realize:

These are your first true, adult friendships. And these are your first true, adult losses of those friendships.

Humans are always so frustratingly predictable, you ramble to RK. We follow the pattern too closely, even in our deviations from our paths.

05/21/17 10:08am, on the plane from DC to Beijing

You’re ending with a shot of your friends outside at twelve-thirty in the morning outside on the quiet green. You were lying down, and they are all laughing so very genuinely that you feel a rush of affection just looking at it, and it is slightly blurred and lopsided so perhaps you were very genuinely laughing also. The flash bounces a sheen off of their skin: a highlight on the round chipmunk smile of AC’s cheek, on the underside of the tip of YM’s nose. You remember feeling comfortable. You remember feeling at home. You remember feeling open. You remember laughing on your back with your legs kicking the air in glee. You remember doing the same with HJ after watching a food video that carved vaginas into Thanksgiving foods. You remember reading an article about true friendships and the selectivity of that term and you remember thinking about YM. You are still looking at the photo. No one looks good, but It’s Such A Good Photo, you think. You’ll Treasure This Photo Forever, you think.

05/21/17 10:38am, on the plane from DC to Beijing

You think about the goodbyes.

You woke up with HJ and checked the time and hollered that He Was Late and chuckled afterward at the memory of him shooting out of bed instantly, pure panic on his radiating face in his bright green shirt. You scrambled to help stuff the sleeping bag, throw out the trash. You trailed behind him as he ran to the Uber. You stopped at the edge of the street so that he could turn and kiss you. You stood in a dazed mess as he dropped his bags to wrap you in a hug because he knows you like hugs. You watch him load the car and you check your texts accidentally too long and when you look up the car is already driving away. You send a text with all five colors of heart emojis, thinking that you’ll work your way up to sending just one red one.

YM came to the building you were grading essays and you couldn’t help it so you both slumped down in ridiculous position on couches and talked until we hit the time limit, and then YM pushed back her departure time and you talked for more. You planned your TV watching schedule so that you could discuss their sociopolitical implications with YM and affirmed her sweatpants in the ninety-degree weather and made her promise to get a Snapstreak going for you. You explained to her what a Snapstreak was as she stood in the middle section between the inner and outer glass doors of the building.

You ran across campus to say goodbye to GR. You were running to the eatery she said she was at when she yelled your name from the spot she was sitting at in the grass. You hugged each other and walk opposite way, but she calls your name when you’re somewhat twenty feet away from each other. What? you say. It Was Nice Knowing You this Semester, she says in her slightly off English. You Say That Like We Won’t Know Each Other Next Semester, I say, laughing, and she smiles and we turn and continue walking.

You ran across campus again with your luggage that AM was storing for you for two weeks and hugged his mom before him. You helped him saran wrap his carpet and he listened to you complain about your allergies. You gave them a quick wave. You’ll see them in two weeks.

You were waiting for the librarian to find a specific book that you really wanted to read and it took so long that BI and AC just decided to come to you. They walked in the door and you shot the crap for a few minutes and complimented his bag and you all promised to get together a visit and promised It Will Be Amazing. BI said Love You and you said Love You Too Broskito.

AC and MC said goodbye to you. You ran outside with your suitcases when they yelled and you stopped to give them a hug and MC said your name and raised her eyebrows and smiled in that way that she does and you hugged and turned and walked away.

You’ll be friends with ES for a long time, you think as her mom drives you to the airport. You hug her in her camouflage print sweatpants and poofy hair and you know. You are not sad.

You love and hate the goodbyes. You add goodbyes to the list of Things To Live For. You don’t have goodbyes for people that don’t matter.