AUBADE 81

Aimee Seu

I want to write you something like the bend 

of light in our room in the morning, the smell 


of your clothes after work, your rough clean hands. 

Like the sun fracturing so red through your car’s


back window driving home from the beach, winding 

Florida highway over low water like a road in a dream 

and you, drenched in golden hour, shoulder blade 


freckles like starmatter, your accidental muscles 

dappling and your dark green voice 

saying how you love the ocean 


but not like our room and home meaning to arrive

at each other’s bodies and finally lay down, 

hair harsh with salt, the unmade sheets 


like a foam-roiled wave receding 

silver-thin from the shore, and all of this blinding me. 

But I’ll probably only begin to know 


how to write about you when we’re already over. 

We have each left so many selves behind to get here. 

I’m not foolish enough anymore to think this shedding 


ever stops. It is easier for me to bring us to the dmt 

smoked on a fire escape in pouring thunder when I was 19 


and the rainbow sandstorm of musical symmetry 

that followed, than to explain you looking at me 

from the doorway of the kitchen. Easier to show 


the spiderweb bedecked in suburban rain those summers 

of my hounding neurosis, my mother called the cops 

on me every night, than to write anything like a vow


or your name. Instead, let me show the northern lights:

how you lay on your back over a frozen lake in Alaska 


before we ever met, you said it looked 

like the silhouettes of huge strangers 


passing before a gossamer neon curtain.

My tongue stupidly believes the roof of your mouth 

is larger than that sky. But maybe the body of my now


and the body of your now, when we have flown them 

and they fall away behind us like husks, will hitch together 


the way the cicada shells we saw clung to the trees,

those small ornately-decorated emptinesses. And maybe 


the memory of that day on the beach, how the two 

of them walked far away from everyone, the wind 


so loud in their ears, how she stood with her arms crossed 

in a hoodie and just bottoms and he cracked the beers with his keys. 

Maybe it will all remain in the consciousness of the dirt. 


The way you cannot feel the planet turn or tilt but suddenly a day 

or month is over—I lay watching you in the morning


as we change imperceptibly

out of ourselves. My father 

once told me love is a mountain 


some part of you climbs and never descends. 

Did he mean that you’re less after? Or by being divided


much more? God is merciless 

in her dispensing of beauty but somehow, we endure. 


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Aimee Seu is the author of Velvet Hounds, winner of The Akron Poetry Prize. She graduated from the University of Virginia Creative Writing MFA Poetry Program in 2020 as a Poe/Faulkner Fellow where she was recipient of the 2019 Academy of American Poets Prize. Other awards she’s received include the 2020 Los Angeles Review Poetry Award, the 2020 Henfield Prize for Fiction, the 2016 Academy of American Poets Prize at Temple University, the Temple University 2016 William Van Wert Award, and the Mills College Undergraduate Poetry Award. She was a semifinalist in the 2019 New Guard Vol. IX Knightville Poetry Contest judged by Richard Blanco and a finalist for the 2020 Black Warrior Poetry Prize judged by Paul Tran. Her poetry, fiction and nonfiction have appeared or have forthcoming publications in Ninth Letter, Pleiades, Los Angeles Review, BOAAT, Redivider, Raleigh Review, Diode, Minnesota Review, Blacklist, Adroit, Harpur Palate, and Runestone Magazine. She is a Philadelphia native currently living in Tallahassee where she is a Poetry PhD student at Florida State University.