Same Side of the World
Your voice, this time one year ago,
over the phone: your car smashed up
on the interstate that morning, “I hope
you don’t mind riding home in a rental.”

Then my hand on your hand on the gearshift on the way back.
I think there was a blizzard. I was repeating words to you,
shoulders frozen, eyes unblinking, staring straight
ahead, two girls on a highway pretending we weren’t scared.
There was an old hippy John Lotus who helped us with our
solar panels, whom you made friends with, had conversations
that felt like being on acid, you said. And I didn’t know what
you meant till long after you left for Kenya  and I for England,
after you  told me that we’ll be on the same side of the world

, until we are lying side by side in Tavistock Park
talking about  the five senses, except you have a British
accent and red hair, you are a boy who corrects my English,
who wonders if rocks have consciousness: I refer to a religion
class I once took in America, one about Buddhism
and nature. We’ve only just met but I swear you remember:
it was your favourite professor. I already know what
you mean when you say this is the best place in the world
because the leaves are yellow and flying around us,

the way each Fall you’d declare the spot of Ohio
we were stuck in the best place in the world,
how I had to agree once I stopped hating you
spending your afternoons at the village bar
in deep conversation with greying townies
you always took home to dinner (some said
you were an old soul, others spread rumours)
while I always seemed to have something better
to do, deleting your texts that said come join
me, barricading myself in the library studying
until well past 1AM.

Now you ask me if I’m the type of person who attends lectures.
You don’t, but you never did go to class anyway. I am trying not to
hate you again because I like your green eyes and how they scrunch
up when you laugh at the advertisements at the tube station.

I remember your sister’s bed in Boston she let us sleep in
the night before we drove home: we lay in the dark comparing
our weird families. You would let anyone into your bed,
just to spoon to keep warm. Something I never got used to

until I let you sleep in my bed the night you had nowhere to go:
we stay up again, trading stories about tree-climbing, the existence of
monsters, the meaning of everything. I want to ask you if this is the
type of conversation people have while on acid, fall asleep to your
breathing, wake up to your messy red hair all over your face.
I look elsewhere: I don’t like you like that. This is just a bed,
and I am just a townie with a receding hairline, wife and kids,
still learning you.

-Stephanie Chan