Collage by Kaeleigh James.

Collage by Kaeleigh James.

I Have Loved You Before Leaving

—insidious as it lies on the flip side
of the tongue;
my tiniest sputter of truth.

There’s no need to wake up at night, scared
of heat, nibbling drops of mercury to shoot through
the enamel of your sweat.
Tonight air is quiet; don’t be afraid
Each particle of oxygen congeals and
triangulates, giving you
a binary of filament.
How may you look at it?
How may I help you see beyond
the still uncanny heterogeneity of it?
Once I hoped we had a dream and a scar
pinned to the back of your hand.
I thought the desire to be seen could triumph
difficulty sewn across the task of unseeing.
I hoped to forget the present
like being alone is ordinary
like how many times I have deferred my needs.

Now I’m finally incarnated
to put one foot past the door
wondering,
What side of me
is flapping out of darkness?
Hunger barely submerged—
and neither is love—
in whole.

—By Chi T. L.