drowned places | by Quinn Lui

all my clever / airlift / nothing words keeping us afloat
till now, but what now? us dead in the water &
my lightning-bug tongue a dead thing in my mouth.
a blink & a breath, flash-fast like freezing, like floodwater.
a blink & a stutter: both slipstream things straddling
mistake & intention if you clutch their eel-barrel bodies
tight enough. is this what we built this cavern for,
this haven, did we end the story with nowhere to run —
did we come to the last page with nothing to show
but a tragedy of our own making. shark-sense tattling:
i don’t know how to swim. i don’t know how to swim
& you’re saying i have to save myself. you’re saying
something about sacrifice, something about regrets,
but you never listened to mine. ice-numb from the water
lapping at my wrists like your dog’s tongue, all gentleness
with waiting teeth. all metaphor with reality sinking
fishhook fingers into your shoulder, fishline arms
into the soft underbelly of your chin. pale & wide-eyed as
trout / corpses / all the breathless things living in the deep.
stillwater tastes like an old mistake gone stale but now
i’m coming back to old choices, old endings. unscaled
& finless & still tracking that weakness: you, always you,
my hands anchored in yours. it’s not a death sentence
                                                if i only forgot not to let go.



Quinn Lui is a Chinese-Canadian student from southern Ontario who is very much in love with flowers, thunderstorms, and odd family anecdotes. Their work has been published or is forthcoming in Minetta Review, L’Éphémère Review, Synaesthesia Magazine, and others.

Twitter: @flowercryptid

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