Every room that you leave behind looks / like a room in front of me. / Then rewind me I said. Then hot / water me. Then remind me. Of the middle / of time. In February I follow / you through Europe. At night we dream of statues / in forests and wake / up speaking about / the seafloor / getting smaller. I dream of our lips / beneath their lips. Languaged / but broken back- / wards by the leaves. Of the not / saying. Every night there / are more statues. More leaves. More nights. Every night / my mother calls me to ask / about courage. And every night I have / to apologize to her. I have / to ask her if she / still remembers her mother’s face even as I / forget hers. In Berlin you fall / asleep with a firecracker almost / in the inside / of your wrist. What / does that mean. / In the shower / I play a knife game on the wall with my entire / body watching / my hands. Terrified / of winning and losing. Terrified of the gap / between my hands when it glows / like a body not yours running down- / hill into a silence / not mine. Hands wet / as a net in water. As a moon / on my hands in the shower. Under a bridge / you start taking photographs / of your memories / of this and forget / the sound that it made / me of loss. Of happiness and loss. Of time / and then happiness and then loss. When we break up you / ‘re already in Warsaw. I’m reading Sontag. / In Italian. On Bernauer Straße. So I understand less. So I need more / from strangers again. From the trace again of your / hand again / on my shoulder / in the trace again. Sontag: if time
is the medium
of constraint, space
is broadness. Is teeming
with possibilities, with
detours, and inter-
sections, and slow dead
In Berlin we took the wrong trains. We didn’t meet / at Südkreuz. And I thought of all the cities / to come like a vertical / sea without water. To not drink. Like holes in my clothes. Like / holes in the window in the air while someone / is inventing hope for the only / time. Still the only / last time.
If in / the end. If all I know of you / is the time that we took / and returned. If all I know / of time is the smell / of your calendars folded / on the floor. If I kneel / on your calendars on the floor. Without / you. Without my body. Without even / stopping. Would this be enough to know / of you and time. Once this poem ends will we speak / of other things. Will we speak / and stop / and sing. If salvation / has nothing to do with broadness then shut / the door. Then let / me in.
Yongyu Chen helps edit the undergraduate poetry review Marginalia at Cornell University. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Black Warrior Review, BOAAT, DIAGRAM, Foundry, Indiana Review, jubilat, and Sonora Review, among other journals. He is from Beijing, China and grew up in Knoxville, TN.