Slowly, my wishes became monuments.
When she pressed her lips against the tissue
a slit of lipstick was left,
a Rorschach butterfly
in Rouge Mysore —
such a fragile detail,
and when we exchanged a kiss
it was desire for order,
the tissue falling into the bin
like a wounded snowflake.

Don’t, she murmured.

The party was boring,
another room in the house of regret,
an opulent mansion, filled with strangers.
I wanted to go back
and lift the tissue from where it had fallen,
a keepsake of almost nothing,
the stuff of life.
Instead, we talked about politics and films,
ice sheets and global warming.
We made our excuses and left early
but the forecast blizzard never arrived.

In the car we listened to music.
Held you tight but, darling, couldn’t hold you
the singer crooned. A commentator
said the characters engraved on the Taishan monument
looked like white sunshine
after the showers of late autumn have passed.
We don’t know the real beauty of the Taishan characters
because the stone monument has fallen apart
and not even a rubbed copy is left.
And still, when we drew up outside our house,
there was no snow.