by Margaret Zhang
We hopped from bar to bar until we traveled
through time, until we were on your roof
with a bottle of wine that I kicked off
but at least nobody got hurt, until under the covers
of darkness you murmured sweetly each time
I took your hand. In the morning, skin ripening
with twelve new mosquito bites, I could feel the layers of Brooklyn
peeling away, your memory along with it. You said,
Is there anything else left to talk about? I had a feeling then
that it wasn’t over, but if I never saw you again, at least I had
one memoryless night, a photo that can’t reanimate.
Isn’t that the problem with traveling
through time? By the end, we had known
each other for a lifetime, but by morning, we were newborns
again. All I remembered was hearing
about the summer you couch surfed in China, homeless
most days, warm the next. In exchange, I told you about the year I slept
in hotel lobbies more than my own house, then posed
a question: If all I remember from thirteen is my mother
chasing me out of the house
with a knife and back into it, does it matter
that thirteen was a whole year? Or might it as well
have been a night? Lately I find myself
unable to live like the world matters. So how do I admit this?
Sitting on your roof, the uncertainty of us
was familiar. As cozy as my hotel lobbies, as the park benches
you had talked about. I figured I might get to stay
by being the only one who never left.
On the roof, you played a song: not enchanting
until the end, all the soft notes congregating
on the rooftop of my ears. How like us
it was, I thought, nothing beautiful about it
except the goodbye.
Margaret Zhang used to go by Mar-gar-gar. A Best New Poets and Pushcart Prize nominee, they have attended the Tin House Poetry Workshop and been recognized by the Poetry Society of the UK. They are currently obsessed with liminal spaces, memories, and the otherworldly nature of intimacy. Read their work in Waxwing, The Louisville Review, Salt Hill Journal, The Minnesota Review, and other journals.