It should’ve gone some other way, the man you still want to become a symptom of chance, afternoons infected by people’s dissatisfactions, an undeserved tenderness for yours. Love’s one window through which you enter middle age, and the diminishing future makes you sentimental, rote gestures turning into Through love stirs a night breeze or The way you part the curtains to let life in is a ceremony for him whom you can’t disregard. It’s winter where you are; he restores the odor of summer. Across the street snow on the roof glitters in shard-like threats, and these days abandon’s greatest reward must be delay. Two hours before dark your version of a sun fizzes inside a stein and a ramekin of nuts lengthens with the evening. Life’s a checklist of lonelinesses, but through him you think you are possible—yes, see sentimental. Go to the cinema alone with a silk tie on, drape an arm over the next seat and think it the crucial instance of divine intervention. Step out for a smoke and breathe in the secret smell of his neck. Every wish is a mute wish, every mute answer’s still an answer, and longing’s the better routine. On the deep white of the parking lot a shadow that shimmies like wind. Look out, maybe this time every sign’s a sign he’s giving in.
Mark Anthony Cayanan is from the Philippines. They obtained an MFA from the University of Wisconsin in Madison and are a PhD candidate at the University of Adelaide. Their third poetry book, Unanimal, Counterfeit, Scurrilous, is forthcoming from Giramondo Publishing in 2021. New work has appeared or is forthcoming in Crab Orchard Review, The Margins, Overland, The Spectacle, and Lana Turner. They teach at the Ateneo de Manila University.