cw: allusions to sexual harassment, assault
start: chin placed to ridge of shoulder, calm confessional
breathed into sensitive ear as eyes (mine) dazed at the
river (inky) blotting blush and sweat onto my cheek an
apple away. no questions or olive branches, just the slip
of a knot near the jugular.
another: manhattan-worn sandals cracking concrete towards
dessert (sweet), teeth licked clean from eggy rice and one-way
streets (unreversed). a palm at my spine towards an avenue
i knew to follow and i don't even know you, why are you — ?
— flesh withdrawn, toes keep tapping to the ice cream beat.
before: a leaning back (forward) with hand pressed to feather,
guitar on mattress, exhaled wants into buds that tremble
(sunset) on the tips of ember. gaze open, gaze close, a haunt
of shoulds craved (carved) into plaster.
again: spoons brushing sesame and ice, liquid and tame. courtesy
slid one way (his) over the counter, error 444 (no response).
fingers press waist towards takeout and i don't even know you either,
what are you — ? — hunger burnt, drumline down (too) hushed
streets, cross fingers (legs) and hope it's not empty.
one more: brush (force) palm on pillowing chest and braid glory
with white, trace the crack (close), beg my quake as quiver
shadow lays, hand grips onto something (anything) — neck
of moon, sheet of bed, source of seed and sky.
and, an epilogue: hand splayed in fives, trace earring (butterfly)
in fingernail and tongue. sweat and wind, word and fodder, wink
on and up, knife slices the wrapper to share (even) — banana
split, attention spliced, arm tender at the swing, lips cracked
at the nerve, velvet peeled from phantom hand to call it
a gift.

Vanessa Hu (she/her) is an avid latte-sipper, occasional ballroom dancer, and serendipitous writer. She studies Computer Science and English at Harvard University, and has been published in Corporealand VarietyPack. You can find her ruminations @vanessahwrites on Twitter and Instagram.