Still Dreaming & Elsewhere
Now it’s all sorrowful and pleading litanies from my useless ghost-like heart and body. I know. But I remember what it was to move to a city for the first time and to be handed fresh towels from my landlady along with stories of forbidden love overshadowing war from her youth in Guatemala even if it was just for a brief while. And then more beauty, her saying to pull open the white curtain by AM’s 6:30 for the orange bulb sunrise— like a soft balloon floating among polluted traffic and towers. And I remember my first shower in the rusted tub, how I imagined the water was the night’s warm rain falling over the high-rise hotels and tent markets, where I could hear greetings and fish sales in Arabic. Whatever was said, it sounded so inviting, like the swaying of those lilac bushes, the shifting of dogwood branches in the damp wind surrounding the red rowhomes of my boarding room. I love the memory of you putting the address and number in your yellow felt coat. By then it was February, and snow and bell serenades from the Japanese embassy drifted through the streets. One day we will meet again. Maybe on a metro rail, circling above sycamores and highway bridges, the one I take nightly just to remember what it was to be part of the living. And you will sit by me in an orange seat. When we go through the tunnels to liquid-like trance served by the lonely and sincerely sad young DJs, inside, it will feel like stars lighting some new silver water-soaked galaxy.
What has been left is gone. Inside me now lives an orchard— a blossom orchard surrounded by moths. There used to be you to talk to from time to time. We would take hold of a rained on branch & speak, or you kindly listened to me selfishly cry. My friend, what is the name of your city? I remember it now in orange lights from laundromats & Korean eateries, that neon glow autumn leaf gold so wildly blowing along your district’s streets. Maybe, I lived there too once. These days I am forgetting so many things. And later, tonight in the faraway forest, fir trees wade in wind & hailstorm. I want to lick the wet moon. I want to never again pretend that I am better than I really am. I want to pretend I live in a rowboat along the flooded river— no paddles, just tender voices from the village’s red stone taverns & temples calling me home & candle lit signals in the upper rooms. I know none of this will be real. I really don’t deserve these things to be real anymore. But once you came into my room & you gave me swans & the swans were gorgeous & the swans showed me how to swim— in heavy dark waves tremoring, just how to swim.
About the Author
Michelle Askin’s poetry and short fiction have appeared in 34th Parallel Magazine, The Tiny Journal, Pleiades, MayDay Magazine, Santa Clara Review, and elsewhere. She lives in Reston, Virginia.