IR Online is an international undergraduate literary journal produced by the Literary Editing and Publishing class at Indiana University, Bloomington. Issue 3 was planned and compiled by Emily Corwin’s class in Spring, 2018.
At the end of the New Years party, after a few drinks,
the boy I went to high school with decided to leave with a joke:
“Hasta la vista, or whatever they say in your country.”
That night I was thinking: were his jokes always that bad?
“It’s possible that white boys use humor to talk about race
and culture,” I wrote in my journal, and also “people will result to humor
when they don’t understand something.” Actually, I meant resort,
people will resort to humor. What can I say, words are hard.
And I frequently make spelling mistakes in my journal,
where I often go back to my old thoughts, like I’m having them all over again.
I heard your memories change over time in your mind
so I like to write them down. To go back to them. re-read them.
A window that catches good light in the morning and
Streetlight at night
But you can never tell where the moon is through it
A sack of dust that turns everything it touches green
And turns your face dark
But makes your head silver inside and out
A two way mirror for a headboard
For doctors with quiet clipboard hands and
Eyes that go around your head like angry bees on a hot day (memory)
That stay so cool on your skin you can barely get them warm without someone there beside you
My bed’s always made when I get home
And when you cover up the mirror with a freezing blanket, those windows could open two shining heads on any street that lights.
Two decades, I finally notice
we use curtains not to shut out strangers
but to make them curious. The pool,
rather, is how we hide ourselves
from prying eyes. It’s impolite
to stare at half-naked men and women
pretending to be marine mammals.
I’m not talking about the Dead Sea,
where any person without swimming
lessons can float. Funny how we’re
most buoyant with desolation
just below us. Like the ocean,
I’ve swallowed too many wishes,
words. How I’ve learned that secrets
are boring because no one
shares them, because even a whisper
multiplies to more than one. Funny
how we try to kill all that proliferates,
put chlorine in our spaces. I thought
I was immune to every threat, the thrill
of them, believed that speaking to a higher
power would make me immortal.
That speaking to someone
else would waste my breath and blood.
It’s obvious: we aren’t allowed
to pick our poisons, but our poisons
let us live. What I love: people,
not their faces, but the shadows
they make on covered windows.