Late at night, in my new home, I wake
to the sound of rain falling through a hole
in the roof.
Still, I keep your things close by--
an Alaskan knife, a blue vial of cologne.
I dab it on my neck, the insides
of my wrists. A fly mistakes me
for bruised fruit. I breathe deep,
walk outside to the water’s
edge, though I no longer believe
what I see--
that the severed hands drifting downriver
are the same hands that once ran
through my wet hair.
In this new life, I ask nothing of you.
A tree grows out of the carcass
of a deer—its branches thrusting
into the night like antlers.
At your funeral, three women stood by as they buried you
though only one cried. Nobody
loves the living like the dead.
Your scent rises from my skin, gathers in my mouth
like a storm.
I exhale—my breath, a raincloud.
My whole life, you treated me like a dream
you would write down when you woke.
And here we are. I lie beside your body
in the tall grass. The wolf tattooed on your chest
saunters onto mine, makes a bed
of my torso, and falls asleep.
Its jaws hanging open,
teeth brushing against my throat.
• • •
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SIMON SHIEH is a poet, essayist, and educator living in Beijing. A lifelong martial artist, Simon competed in his first professional Muay Thai fight at 17 years old in Shanghai. The day before he turned 21, Simon suffered his first and only loss by knockout in Brazil. Soon after, he turned away from fighting and found poetry. The work of Jericho Brown, Eduardo Corral, Louise Glück, Terrance Hayes, Ocean Vuong, Lucie Brock-Broido, and many others opened the doors for his poems. A full list of Simon’s publications can be found at simonshieh.com.