for Monica Sok
Poetry from NER 38.1 (2017)
We didn’t hold typhoons or tropics in our hands.
I didn’t reach across the table on our first date
at Cornelia Street Café. In my humid pockets,
my fists were old tennis balls thrown to the stray dog
of love bouncing toward the Hudson down
to South Ferry. We didn’t hold hands in that cold
October wind, but the waves witnessed our promise
to return to my cratered-deforested homeland,
and you to your parents’, sometime in the future.
No citizenship or some other violence in our countries
(separated by the Pacific, tied by the latitude
of dragon fruits, tamarinds, mangosteens) was why
we couldn’t, and can’t, return for now. Then, us
in the subway at 2 am, oh the things I dreamt: a kiss
to the back of your neck, collarbone, belly-button, there—
to kneel and bow my head, then return to the mole
next to your lips and taste your latitude together.
Instead, I went home, you touched my cheek,
it was enough. I stood, remembering what it’s like
to stand on desert dirt wishing stars would fall
as rain, on that huge dark country ahead of me.
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