by Michelle Askin

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.