A Silent Study of Tired Things

 

I watch them migrate across your convex mirror,

dark silhouettes behind frosted glass that tell

a story of a lock, a hardened thing 

submerged under its own skin,

filled with ventricles of pins,

tumblers, and the curdled remains of daylight.

 

A story changes from

your worn hands to mine, still smelling

of ginger and sea salt.

It is wet with truths that evaporate

too quickly, like when you said 

things will go on.

I did not believe you. I

try to spool out what I mean, what

I mean to mean, but it comes out

like crowded teeth.

 

I spend my hours searching

for polyester hopes in

silent places. I’m told

truth is hard and clear like acrylic.

It lives amongst the wreckage

of an old hungry dream

so we can read the stenciled texture of the self.

The confessional ballasted by

scar tissue. Will I turn to speak?

 

You smile, the corners of your mouth an apology.

My words graze idly

in the stillness of my hands and I try

to think of that story, the way it lingers in folds of skin,

the acrid smell of burnt-out love,

my mother’s voice

enunciating its lived-in truth, to just hold on,

but it recedes into the haze of an old mirror

where even the shape of its absence is lost.

Justin Aoba lives and writes in New York City.