Love Letter

She walks like a woman who’s trained herself to take up space without being seen. Japanese-Chinese American, her first language at home was Mandarin, but her first word was English. A contradiction in all forms, boyishly beautiful and alone in a world large enough to swallow her whole.

she was desperate

and he was warm

she smelled like woven bamboo, washed cotton and blade oil

he tasted like sweat, coffee and stubble


in fogwell’s gym he danced around her

like a hummingbird

just out of her reach

in fogwell’s gym she went after him

like a feline — elegantly


she blooms like a lotus blossom

and he has the pleasure of watching it — of feeling it, feeling her

and she has the pleasure of not having to prove herself

of sparring someone who is her equal

braid stuck to the nape of her neck

his legs melting into the mat

she says

if you told me i could fly

i might just believe you


she hovers over the threshold to his bedroom a week later

hand in her pocket

thumbing the braille on his business cards

the way she thumbs his dimples


and when he tilts his head to kiss her

she tastes like new york city rain

and he kisses her in the same way that he welcomes the rain

with violent relief and a half-finished prayer
she can’t find her grip amongst the silk sheets until the length of her spine sticks to them and won’t let go
he maps out the shape of her with his fingertips, savouring her until she cries out in frustration


condensation on the windowsill,

made from a collection of breaths

she watches it drip


while she slides back into herself
the tender parts of her made tender to the touch

tender-touch, tender-walk, tender-talk
he asks her if she’s okay

and she says



you asked

if i had any money

you said you were so hungry


i said no

even though

a quarter burned a hole

in my pocket


i didn’t want

to give you

a quarter

of what you asked for


it was 5:30 in the evening

and i had already been



and looked over


men had already

taken so much energy from me

by demanding

my number

that i meet their eye


that by the time you reached me

reached for me

asked me

for money


i was so tired

that i didn’t have the strength to sum up

what kind of man you were

or if you were someone i could trust

even for a moment


half a block later

i watched a young man

in a hoodie

fist bump another man

whose fingernails were black

teeth like tar


two grins, two cigarettes


and my body on the corner

waiting for the light to change


so when you asked me

for a dollar



i had no words

for how privilege had made me so tired


i’m sorry

so sorry

i know privilege makes you tired too