Virtual

One of us is a faucet reconciling to the temperature
of indifference. This is the world: the drawer assembled
by you pinches a finger before yielding.
There are so many foreigners here, I said, when I first stepped
onto a beach in Virginia. I had an idea of the ocean,
and of who I was. I am in water now, attempting to see
the ocean. We lick our wounds with the same tongue.
 
Long accustomed to carrying a gauze for shield, the heart
wraps bruises like dumplings. I see the sun
through my neighbour's window, whelked
in lace. Is this what we mean when we use the word "virtual"?
Tulips grow even after they're cut. The ones I loved,
having died without returning, crowd the heart's waiting room.
To start all over again is to imagine the world is, as it is.
I give up; I thought this was a poem about nation,
the one she began at nineteen. The one she waits to return
to: her eyes never adjusting to the colors of exile.
This antechamber; this long incision called hope.
 
Last night I crossed to the other side, unwelcome
territory. I might have been sad. My broke heart.
 
I'd been observing then, the sun's influence, subjugated
by streetlights imitating moonlight. Even the sun softens,
(I had thought to myself) to bring every image in view
as a memory of some other place, some other text.
Last night, I slept in a borrowed bed for guests
I anticipated, as host to self's solitary marriage.
I examined the world, thus altered. Later, standing
at the precipice, I awoke. Even sleep did not take me
back. And the signal—being green—I walked.
 

Tsering Wangmo Dhompa, "Virtual." Copyright © 2016 by Tsering Wangmo Dhompa. Used by permission of the author for PoetryNow, a partnership between the Poetry Foundation and the WFMT Radio Network.
Source: PoetryNow (2016)
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