By Yue Chen
So you headed out first, to that place we swore we’d never go—
why forsake heroics, jump the gun, crawl into others’ cavities
if the end just sneaks in? Quiet & porous as a smokescreen?
I’m told it was painless, it was musicless, it was thin & brief.
If it were me, you wouldn’t camouflage in my blood. You’d muscle
into the outer world & retribute, redistribute grief
as coins draining a wishing well, burn something to remember us by.
Is wishful thinking trusting there was no pain?
The last face of yours I will ever see is small & blue, eyes screwed shut.
As though unseen doors lead to no rooms.
As though unmarked fire escapes are not exit wounds.
Even now, I’m saying “it was painless,” “there was no pain,” a prayer.
The animal part of me cannot prescribe you hurt, ascribe affliction
to you who braced your life outsmarting sting after stab.
Didn’t you tell me, D, to run? In zigzags, against the bullet’s
shoulder line, in as open a plane as I could conjure?
We would never be heroes—only the skulkers hailed as soldiers.
There was a master plan. For every code, a choreography.
This was never how it should have been. White linens, fogged shields,
silence and stillness and lips breaking around a target.
There is no great escape. This is not a room, and there is no smoking gun.
No, you just stepped out for a minute, taking shelter by the wayside.
When the light returns, you will dance with me again.
We’ll light up the streets with everything they cannot kill.
Yue Chen (she/her) studies economics and edits Sine Theta Magazine. Find her on Twitter @girlghibli.
This piece is a part of DISTANCED 3.0.