At last, the rain washes night’s script 

off the mind’s pages. There is no use 

holding out your palms—


into morning, into the leaf-stippling

mist—asking, over & over, for more

proof of permanence. 


Like any other day, I rise, shiny with 

belief, to ease the kettle into its usual 

ritual of heat & wait for dawn


to sift through the purling steam, while

in another room, my love slumbers 

sparingly. Fever has licked 


his brows heavy with dew, turned his 

exhaustion into a map of salt on skin

that will gleam in the indifferent


sun. From here, in the amniotic light 

of the kitchen, in the unearned safety

of this silence, I can almost see


the shape of the end: the shorelines 

smeared by the sea, no wind to console

the wave-toppled monuments


as our bones whiten under the glaring

sky into archipelagos of bleached coral,

chiseled by time into an empire


of grit & silt. When the last hour comes, 

lay me down beside his body the way

the current deposits the sand. 


For now, praise the hydrangeas with their rain

-smudged faces in the window boxes.

Praise the length of his simple spine


still refusing the gift of ruin.





Gavin Yuan Gao is a Brisbane-based poet and translator. His writing has been highly commended in the 2018 SLQ Young Writers Award and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in New England Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Cincinnati Review, The Journal, Hobart, Winter Tangerine and elsewhere.

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