Unpublished Diaries of The Philae
four billion miles later I thirst
for a pinch a hurt a cough
pin drop on floorboards anything
to break this flameless lickless
nothing streak across
dust water ice will do nicely
for a ten-year crave
brought nothing but tampons
and passports for a comet chase
a tensile density they told me
from the place calculators chandeliers
cut in multiplications
I should have stayed where
up down were severed siblings
where silence lived in parenthesis
but no one would let me laugh
the way I do here tongue out loose bones
flattened to match the dark-glazed scenery
how the cartilage of things glow here
boundaries can be traced filled
with all the geometry I can remember
except for the shape of arrows and exit
yes dust water ice feels good
between the toes
The crest of the wing is sunlight condensed
to white. I can count the nails bent
into metal cutouts from geometry class,
black rust lines like penciled graphs.
It’s a wonder it all holds together.
I try not to watch the minutes change
but want to catch them in the act: silent tick
of electric lines. Once, after looking away,
I feared they had morphed back.
There must be an ocean below
but the clouds are merciless today.
There must be islands too: brief ones,
untouched ones, because who would choose
to be reminded of their smallness
by such a constant blue?
Something aches in my collarbone.
Can’t sleep. My eyelids are made of you
and of the way you find the shape of me
in the dark. No compass would set
in our uncharted bed.
The white wing won’t show a flicker
of speed. If it weren’t for the passing minutes
I would have thought we were pinned
to one longitude: the aluminum moth.
I’m having trouble retracing your mouth
from the last. If only vivid were an undying word.
Loosening and tightening as the city sinks beneath me.
My fingers no longer fingers: only the most necessary of pins to preserve
this moth under museum glass. I pin myself, detach and pin again. Letting go should be as simple as blinking, but I have forgotten all gestures of the eyelid.
My body, tight like a pebble, is telling me to hold on.
lipstick like a cigarette click
flameless only the rise of red
a stringless wick
slabs of gloss
if I push against your open
with my open
mouth so used to concrete lockwood salt
used to threads suspending bridges
and fine steel between a red balloon
a small hand
would I undermine
your necessary fragility
love poems are latex gloves giving
the delusion of owned skin
they toothpick through hands
looking for remnants of a song
even a hum would detach
from the lines of your palm
they hide under nails masquerading
as subway scum and the moment
your measured years slip
you’ve chewed a dirty nail
if a walrus finds it hard to breathe
when a piano and a violin conspire
to squeeze its heart to raspberry jam
what are elephants to do
with their own ears
that could swallow a human or two
a sip of water could erase this
or a wipe of sleeve
red is a die-young kinda color
waiting for a rollercoaster crash
stop-motion cartoon that is my twisting
the licked envelope
the lipstick letter
Yun Wei received an MFA in poetry from Brooklyn College and studied international relations at Georgetown University. Her writing awards include the 2014 Geneva Literary Prizes (for Fiction and Poetry), the Himan Brown Poetry Fellowship and the Ray Bradbury Short Story Award. Her work has appeared in generous journals like The Brooklyn Review and [Five] Quarterly. After hopscotching through China, Montreal and New York, she now works in international development in Geneva, where she subsists on a daily diet of cheese, chocolate and mulled wine.
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Cover image: Chrystal Berche