california

by Quinn Lui

california

ocean-speak is a language best heard in moonlight

& every silver flash of fishscale agrees. the water

is warm as a soft hand between your fingers,

hooking around your ankles like a promise made.

 

come morning you make lemonade

with fruit fresh from the tree in the garden,

saltstains scrubbed away by both sugar

& sour. on your cousin’s desk a half-blind turtle

pushes aimless against the wave-clear plastic

he’s kept in. you wonder if he too dreams of water

& promises brought by high tide in the dark.

every dream after

by Quinn Lui

every dream after

you did not so much fall in love

as love specter-wound around your waist,

long arms threading like the afterthought

of wire. by then you knew enough tenderness

to put your childhood to sleep each night,

never closing the door any more harshly

than if it was breakable as a hand.

 

and then: love’s fingers slotting

around your wrist and clasping closed

neat as molded plastic, something magnetic

in the easy alignment of your joints. you

could walk with her to anyone who says

this is not real, tell them they do not know ghosts

like you. tell them yes, sometimes

they come back all floral between the bone

but sometimes they come back as a poem

that flies hushed through the wind and sometimes

they come back with eyes metal-plated

and clicking when they close.

 

near-sleeping in another lifetime

or another body or in some space

where there was no difference between the two,

you promised to take every dream as a lover

until you found her. in this one she is no siren

shadow-maid. instead her lantern-heart

with its missing shutters leads you home

through woods all dark shards and shrapnel,

her mouth a neon-petaled switchboard

of a peony, voice fogging radio waves to the

fingerprint tangibility of power lines.

 

so you did not so much fall in love as love

tipped her chrome-crowned head into your lap, and

the mechanical whirr of her hair as it slipped into place

softened into something that sat still in your chest,

rough and quiet and full, and                you let it.

Quinn Lui is a Chinese-Canadian student whose work has appeared in Occulum, Synaesthesia Magazine, Half Mystic, and elsewhere. They are the author of the micro-chapbook teething season for new skin (L’Éphémère Review, 2018). You can find them @flowercryptid on TumblrTwitter, and Instagram, or wherever the moon is brightest.

Quinn Lui

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