This little ocean has a way / of submerging everything behind its mask. And Lam, / it has swallowed you whole and I could do / nothing.
June 9, 2020
For Hong Kong
i. Chow Speaks
I’ve been searching for you all night, he says
to Yau Tong Bay. This little ocean has a way
of submerging everything behind its mask. And Lam,
it has swallowed you whole and I could do
nothing. Chow blames himself. The hand
can still grip a handle without one of its fingers.
A mouth can speak without a row of its teeth.
But without you, Lam, I’m nothing, he wrote
once, before the first time they had sex.
Back then, it had been affectation, still drunk
on the perfect shape of her eyes.
Those foolish things kids promise to each other.
And they were still kids. You must’ve been calling
for me, he whispers, throat brimming over,
must’ve been holding onto the straps of your shoes
until they were done. The drowned, rising
to the surface, cast themselves into a furnace;
this city burnt to offering, like spirit money.
I am sending all the good things to you I can.
Now he understood—we are living after the peace.
ii. then Lam
I remember the car park was a collection of mouths held agape.
They took pulls from vinegared cigarettes and blew fumes into
I spent all night waiting, Chow—each door you tried led nowhere;
still you took your chance to escape
The boys at the university will not accept this without ignition,
each bottle representing a life.
I miss it, tracing my fingers across your generous back.
How you washed my hair and parted my lips with your nose.
We were supposed to spend these fifty years chasing after the
peace; that was now smoke.
Do you see, Chow? How it floats with you, down into the earth.