Cohabitation

By Clara Changxin Fang

Even this close we are constantly parting. 
Mornings you stir coffee, cream blooms 
in your cup like a white peony, 
while my hair washes up in the shower 
like seaweed on the shore 
of white tiles and tub rings. 
Our distance is marked by dirty socks, 
bread crumbs, shoes coming apart at the soles, 
underwear tangled fitfully in the drawers. 

Nights I sew your absence into patchworks 
to cover my nakedness. Or perhaps my nakedness 
is a cover which you use to hide your need 
to unveil yourself. I am a house 
in which the robbers have come
leaving the furniture in disarray. 
A tattered kite in the wind, 
a ship that has lost its bearings. 

We are unfulfilled. Longing 
for some intimacy beyond proximity, 
we disrupt each other.
Your movies blare into my poems,
my forgetfulness that causes you pain. 
In the night, knees and elbows jostling, 
we lie like mismatched puzzle pieces, 
waiting for the clarity of morning 
to put us together, an unhinging 
to unlock the tenderness of routine. 


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About Clara Changxin Fang

Clara Changxin Fang is a writer, artist, and environmentalist. Her poems have been published in Poet Lore, Willow Review, Cold Mountain Review, Verse Daily, among others. She received an MFA from University of Utah and a Master of Environmental Management from Yale. She immigrated to the United States from China when she was nine years old and has spent most of her life in the Northeast. She currently works as Sustainability Manager at Towson University near Baltimore, Maryland. Her poems and writings about sustainability can be found on her blog Residence On Earth.

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