i had a mouthful of questions.   the car had been
speeding along a bridge, when.   i didn’t open it
for six months.   an unblue glow undid me, your face
lit up as you unlocked your phone.   a dramamine

hangover of stillness.   the questions turned into
what fermentation would produce in arctic cellars,
lichen wines, notes of reindeer liver.   do you
want to have a glass with dinner? asking

continues or delays, me & you standing fallible
in turn, chancing some next poison.   the upward inflection
every memorized and lost language must have deployed
was part of this ritual, a key as it flipped from flat

to raised, opening up a space that could be
reliquary or wound. i had a mouthful of gauze.
suppose that i had been trying to get out from under
the elementary certainty of true or false as, in the

background, a future made its escape sharpish.
suppose that i would have tried my hand against
the occasional lie, a gambler sitting down to win back
a deed.   but you didn’t owe me that. the last of the light

was near, a warning about living as an option but
pretending it is a wish.   avoid preoccupation, invite silence,
intuit when words may soil themselves and beget
an asterisk.   do not make it either reliquary or wound.

when we speak again, statements will have to do.
the weather’s cold today.   i have been busy.   you look well.


Mingpei Li was born in China and lives in New York City.  Her poems appear or are forthcoming in Puerto del Sol, Santa Ana River Review, Kaaterskill Basin Literary Journal, Vinyl, Up the Staircase Quarterly, and elsewhere.