the king’s road
i don’t want this poem
to ache. i want to think
about that dusk as tenderness
instead of something with teeth.
let me just tell you
about the asphalt, the white sycamores,
the silver car engines singing a river of light.
i was standing on the sidewalk,
breath dripping onto the dark earth, thinking
about the red scrapes of road burn
on tanned thighs. how a car crash
ing into a boy will
smash his head and
snap his spine into match
sticks, maple leaves, so many scars like
tire tracks smeared on concrete.
there was the cool evening breeze
and someone’s golden lab, his limbs joyfully askew,
is chasing his ratty tennis ball near the edge
of the road. that’s
this road going nowhere,
this road leading my body home, this road shattering
into a tunnel with a prism of color at the end.
the bitter taste of gasoline. i’ll tell you instead
how summer lingered in the air thick
enough to bite.
the slender green pines across the street
i watched the sun paint
a watercolor goodnight.
Imagine this: the stars
in your rearview mirror
are closer than they appear.
In the spring dusk,
the ripe apricot moon
kisses the asphalt.
Those stars, that moon,
the same bright fires
that lit up the night
when we tore ourselves
from the water of history. Now,
nothing is real but
the wind in your lungs
from the open windows,
the lilac freeway speeding by.
You grasp your breath in your palms
as it hums a holy melody;
your heart a bass beat
through the radio. Tell me again
how memories are anything
but half-remembered stories;
how love is the opposite of forgetting.
And oh, to be hand-in-hand and balancing
on the tender edge of desire.
Tonight, you sit in your car and let
the songs you loved back in middle school
blast out the open windows.
Tell me how you can still sing along.
Nathan Lee is an emerging transgender poet. He is currently a high school senior at Monta Vista High School in Cupertino, California. His work is forthcoming in Polyphony Lit and Lambda Literary’s collection Writing Out of the Closet and has been published in Celebrate Creativity, a local anthology.
Visual Art by: Johnson Anthony