Quiet and Cold Enough to Start a Fire by Natalie Chin
time is slipping and even more so on this boat. stuttering out groans,
bruising the silence. tonight of all nights the pale birds have fallen asleep
where swans eat where swans eat a heart is having flight
tattooed into it. the boat drifts down watery lights, past houses
where a fire keeps someone warm, and this person, she is not alone.
she is not listening to her own voice, anyway, it is a singular verb
which she can get drunk on. as if to say, hunker down and be mine. yes, you.
be someone i cannot forget. the statues outside cast frozen shadows on
if my fingers were less cold, i would take a picture of it. so i can
begin to remember.
but we recognize the stone for what it is, figures which cannot be mistaken for
real people because we know what
human touch feels like,
and it feels like this
like hot breath sticky on the cusp of an ear. like your legs bowing,
knocking into each other when strength has defected.
the wind no matter how brief cannot enter a skeleton, the way sea sickness
does not come from the water. try and outrun the great walls, tell me if you’ve
made it: my own face has grown blue. try harder, again, if only for me.
i promised her a place to rest her mind but what if no one comes
to get us out? what if on returning home we find everyone has changed?
i did not know that isolation strips the skin,
dry. that you get used to it and want nothing else. That
skin can get dry, alone, that brings you comfort.
you get used to the boat,
you become one of the birds fleeing the cold.
Natalie Chin is a girl.
© 2012, Metazen.