by Bao Phi
A river, wanting to go downhill
will carve new tributaries,
tear through homes,
flood the roots of trees.
The therapist tells you your mind
is swollen with doom
that carries you in its white rush,
torrents ripping through
rock and root.
I don’t know in what direction love pulls me.
But I do know the feeling of the muscle in your chest flailing
for fear of drowning.
At Minnehaha, a young Southeast Asian couple asked me
to take their picture.
Cambodian, or Lao, or Thai, or Viet.
He was heavily tattooed and looked like the dudes
who would have whooped my ass just for breathing,
back in the day.
She had dyed hair,
looked like the girls who dismissed me
as a pasty, boring little sellout back then.
They’re the most gorgeous couple in the park.
If it sounds like I’m making assumptions about them and me,
and it’s not okay
just because I’m Asian too.
They like the picture I take for them.
The creek and the falls are swollen from the rains.
The same that have deluged basements,
dips in the road,
drowned park benches too close to the lake shore.
Each raindrop doesn’t care
if it’s the one to soak in
or the one that stays above it all to flood.
They just throw themselves on top of each other
until they become bigger than who they were
when they were apart.
“Therapist 4” from “Thousand Star Hotel” by Bao Phi. Copyright © 2017 Coffee House Press.