Issue #3 // three poems // Elaine Hsiang

28,may / new york
i am in something we call ‘open air.’ someone has turned the volume up on human movement, and i find myself standing on subway platforms just to feel at home. waking up every day is the golden chore.

you told me recently to never stop laughing. today i walked the high line for the fifth time in two days and it was hard not to feel like a tourist, but god it feels so good to walk a place. you would know. you taught me the first thing about silence and how it sleeps between close bodies, in that same tender way love flosses your teeth on nights like this.

i won’t tell you how full my heart is. but when i see you again you’ll probably tuck my hair around my ear and remind me to call my mother, and i’ll look at you with that look i’ve put away for six years. and then i will leave this city, and you, at the quietest hour.

1,june / los angeles
the skyline is lower than my eyelids. the sun is a different kind of sun here, like it wants to remind me that i don’t belong anymore. the smiles have an agenda. the blueberries are confrontational. even the ink is a little stale.

there was a shed near my middle school that i would run to whenever i wanted to be alone, which was a lot of the time. it was always overgrown with weeds but i would crawl in anyway, so uncharacteristic of me and i would just stand there, look around. over time i learned to bring in rocks or trinkets i found on the fields and all by myself, i built a kingdom. when mp3 players came out, i would lose myself for hours in this place. then i got to be a big big high schooler and i stopped visiting the shed because i thought i had better things to do. i don’t remember where it is anymore. probably swallowed up by crabgrass, down-up.

10,june / seattle
another ferry docks but i am still. the last time we stood here all we talked about were the disgusting raisin bran cookies they sold by the wharf. it was a windy day and we had wandered ourselves into a new kind of hunger.

my memories of you are deep fried indigo. you’re not from around here but you became this city all the same, and sometimes i still think i can see you sliding between the planks and rubbing rosemary on the old ones. you are a mother to fifty thousand absent voices and all of them make me want to fork ripe air into my mouth. this is a 4am pleasure. i am not here to stay. the past is beautiful in a way the present never will be.

Elaine has just bounced her way to Boston, and is learning how not to bruise so easily. Ask her stuffed bear what she dreams about on humid summer nights. She is grateful to Maps for Teeth and the other homes she has found for her work.


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