By K. Rene Dobson

좋아해[1]

 

we met when we were kids and not again until we were

adults, I saw sparks in you.

my twin brother had just died, and I heard

the crackle of a furnace in your voice. I wanted that. your smile

was a candle lit by the matches I’d held

from burning bridges I no longer wanted to break my back building

and maintaining on my own. I’d just lost my better half.

your laugh was contagious.

it caught me like a forest conflagration, I thought you were a fire.

I wanted your warmth so badly I told you I’d

surrender my body to yours like I hoped

your blazes would spread through me

at the touch of your fingers and the smell of your skin—I was cold.

grief tore a hole through my chest, and I’d felt a

draft I was convinced I’d always have,

poisoning my lungs with ice and loneliness.

and then

you left.

that fire went out.

the house I built around your chimneys choked in the smoke

of your disappearance, I’m restless yet immobile.

 

I

love?

 

you—

 

until you

weren’t

 

you;

 

then I

 

just—missed

 

you.

 

I wrote you a letter. or three. people don’t do that anymore.

your response, I remember it went

the letters were funny-intense-sincere, and I remember

you not speaking to me for weeks after that.

you weren’t my fire anymore.

ashen pieces of me craved you still, the soundtrack of my heart

became the crackle of a flame, and like fireworks

you were explosive and beautiful and vulgar and—

gone.

 

좋아해. 좋아해.

 

you were impossible to put down,

and I’d abandoned so many good books before—

I was am a veteran of desertion.

I surfaced in happiness those few months

without you. then you came back.

I realized I’d never shelved you.

my happy wasn’t happy, I was haunted.

 

좋아해.

 

my blood is leo; every bridge I build,

I come prepared to dismantle it without a second glance,

and yet

I stare at the bridge I built for us—where it meets in the middle

my side is petrified. the wood of already burnt forests supported

the weight of our one-sided friendship.

which isn’t friendship.

 

좋아해.

 

I have no clue why these burns have left me wanting

more of you.

you reminded me of him.

you never showed appreciation,

it didn’t bother me.

I wanted to take care of you

because I wanted to take care of me.

it took me three hundred and eighty days to realize

the fire was never in you.

it had never been you.

it was me. the smoke, the sparks, the radical blazes; it was me.

it was the me I held when he was still alive.

I saw in you the version of me he’d carried with him to his sunset cemetery.

 

I thought you were a fire.

then I realized you’re nothing but

the winter time television version of a flame you’ll never be.

 

 

[1] Korean, “I like you”

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