Arlene Ang

Departure is at 18:20,
the train sleek as a blue panther
frozen on rails. The zircon
on her nose glitters:
she says it never hurt, not even
that first time we found
ourselves alone in the room.

She was a calla lily,
pure white spathe, yellow spadix,
recurrent dreams of pale
hands tightening around my biceps,
mosquito net an ecru halo
over the four-poster.

I was standing by the steel
table, my coat buttoned
to the neck. The bottle of alcohol
posed half-empty; it was
a sterile environment. Gloves
reduced my sense of touch.

18:23. Commuters surge
around us: the standard element
of time. Her overnight
trolley is tattooed with
scuff marks; she leaves as silently
as she comes, and never cries,
or uses the combination lock.

In her flat, the flowering
crown-of-thorns wilts. Euphorbia:
I wander around the place,
red blooms like dark vision
spots. In her absence, I water
regularly, read the labels
on fertilizers, her keys jagged
crucifixions in my jeans pocket.

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