She finally left—years in the making is the version

you tell as we sit in your apartment and drain


a bottle of Old Overholt Rye in the shadow

of foraged objects you collected like an old couple


antiquing: Pair of midcentury brass lamps, a salvaged

Eames chair, Fender and Gibson propped up


like prodigal children, mounted deer heads

from a taxidermy enthusiast you met on tour


somewhere in Idaho, a library of unread graphic

novels and vintage photographs striking that perfect


note of curated indifference while they scream

in their tiny frames: Are we not beautiful enough?


Your reserve elegizes her: foe granted

sainthood after nearly a decade of driving you


in circles—stunned by her gall to leave, forsaken

with relics gathering unwanted freckles of time,


you recall miles through vacant clubs and faces

of surly men buried in emptied glasses as if


those were the glory days when you thought yourself

brimming with promise—and lo, she haunts


the frets of our muted reunion. You rest your head

on my lap as I stroke your thinning hair, a scene


that must mimic the Pietà. A goddamn pity

party, really. I begin to shiver as I often do in dusty


cathedrals filled with exquisite, silent things—

things so entwined, you mistake wonder


for woe. You hum a ditty as I opine to no one

but my own whiskey reflection: Where on earth


have you been all these years?  Bygones.

Nothing matters anymore. Your skin buckles


from my warm thumbs as I knead the back

of your neck like unleavened bread and gaze


over the length of your sighing limbs, watching

the rift expand between the oars. Multitudes,


I do not contain, for I certainly can’t sing

the blues, so I marvel instead at how the tenor


of your skin no longer soars, strumming

my fingers on your chest like an acoustic guitar


gifted a second life—to welcome

the quiet and perhaps another muse.


Su Hwang was recently awarded the 2016-17 Minnesota Emerging Writers Grant made possible by the Loft Literary Center and Jerome Foundation, juried by members of VONA. Born in Seoul, South Korea, she grew up in New York then moved to San Francisco before transplanting to the Twin Cities to attend the University of Minnesota, where she received her MFA in Poetry. She is also the recipient of the Michael Dennis Browne Fellowship in Poetry, and the Academy of American Poets James Wright Prize. Several of her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Ninth Letter, Drunken Boat, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, Prairie Gold: An Anthology of the American Heartland, and Poets.org. Su currently lives in Minneapolis.