Albany High School
This is where it ends: Limbs unearthed to light,
your breath swelling the laundry— farther, then closer.
If your daughter had returned, you’d show her
to write a real letter, one that is consumed and
never forgotten. If she had returned, you wouldn’t
be standing behind the pool, tinsel scattered
copiously upon the surface. She wouldn’t have
left your arms for the ones of the world, the barbed
wire fingers igniting her hair. She wasn’t a child.
You had taught her about choking hazards and
powerlines, the decadence of pollen on the arms—
the danger of forgetting the body one begins with.
How loneliness hurts, but how it worsens once a
boy can stick his teeth in it. Or if you hadn’t said it,
you had definitely shown it, tied it to your neck,
burned it into the oxygen. Nights drawled recklessly
around the living room, crept everywhere, stole your
things, left her a hostage. But it had been raining.
Things had been falling. You had been forgetting.
Hadn’t you left the door locked throughout the day?
Hadn’t the dishes been half-washed, not too clean
as to attract any wreckage? This is where it ends:
Your hands wrinkled, even before the rain. The rain
leaving, leaving, leaving. The sun returning without notice.
Every time I think I know what this piece is about, it changes direction. But the scattered regret and heart-wrenching guilt is present in every word.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Cindy Xin is a student at Albany High School in Albany, CA. She will graduate in 2020.