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“Running into old love at a mutual friend’s wedding” and “Aperture Blues”

By Juliana Chang

Running into old love at a mutual friend’s wedding

I wished him well and meant it,

as much as I meant the avalanche of black tongue curses

I hurled out my throat the day after it ended,

as much as I meant the hours of revelation and realization

and oh my god‘s I typed and typed after everyone else found out,

as much as everything I wrote and trashed in the damp months to come,

trying to pull together some strand of coherency,

as much as the allegories and parables and the poorly written morals:

old love as toothbrush, old love as cat slipping in a bathtub,

old love as purple cactus and blue glass and red toes and some days,

even years later, old love as split star, as white hot pain, as festering sore,

as much as I meant every image, every metaphor of blade,

sharpened tongue and teeth until they scraped like bone,

until I stopped writing you alive,

and then, as much as I meant the shrugs, the perfectly honed

stories, the quick rundown and the long version too,

every record leading back to that’s why it ended,

which of all things

I meant the most,

or almost the most,

as much as that time I pulled a green duvet onto your bed

and you balked at the color

as much as when I laughed and said it’s ours now

said it with my whole throat

my whole entire throat.


Aperture Blues

this summer, I live for the moment between doors:

the minute after walking out of the apartment,

when the AC is still bubbling in my pores

but somehow I am on Flatbush Avenue,

somehow I am delightfully sunned,

and grinning, and not too hot.

R rolls his eyes at this observation,

says I can’t have it both ways.

late to work, I save my hair from my wet neck,

bet my hand against the rubber clap of subway gates.

I work the knot of envy curdled in my cheek.

I know more and more every day

who I am going to become.

I like it, I think, her, but until then

just many open hoops, many closed doors.

once, young and at a bakery with my mother,

I slide my fingers into the gap between the wall

and the door hinge, the one that appears

whenever the entrance swings open.

for a moment, I am delighted—

I have found a path out of this room

that no one else has found.

I have made my own way.

when it happens, a long wail.

I avoid entering anything for a decade.

watch me stumble out crying,

all bandaged knuckles,

all open wound.


About the Author

Juliana Chang is a Taiwanese American poet. Her work appears or is forthcoming in The American Poetry Review, The Chestnut Review, diode poetry journal, Burningword Literary Magazine, The Best Teen Writing of 2015, and other journals. Juliana is a student at Harvard Law School, where she is a Presidential Public Service Fellow, a National Asian Pacific American Bar Association Presidential Scholar, and an editor of the Harvard Law Review.



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