By Raisa Tolchinsky

why is it that i did not know my no
until i had already said so many quiet yesses

and why now, in a small room, does the woman
ask: where are you still carrying it

when she means, i think,
did you barter away your collarbone for some quiet?

there is never a secret passageway
there is never a quick way into the light

so let me try again.

when stars appeared in a city-bleached sky
i was sure it had to be a sign—

of something, anything, being right.
but if there hadn’t been stars, i would have found a reason

in the rain. if not the rain, then— a stray mosquito, or the glass in your hand.
to exist in an ending for so long is to see only the signs to continue.

my eyes at half-mast, there were so many of you in the
world to keep loving. but smoke is not the same as weather.

to be able to withstand both the beginnings, and the endings,
is how someone once described love to me.

what type of thing is worth more when it is damaged,
flattened by grief?

let me try once more.

i crouched in the grasses,
i set a penny on the tracks.