Volume 68, Number 2 · Spring 2019

Object Lesson

How it began was February,
you took her by the hand, a swirling
orange-red clump of cotton batting
and everything common, to what passed
for a park in the desert city. You invented
a small mission, like searching for a dropped hairpin,
to occupy her while you slipped away
and hid, curious as to what she would do.
What she did was look up, at last, turn
in place, trying not to let the alarm
color her cold face, and call your name—
or what you were to her—as waxwings,
energized by the trouble, flitted, crest
to crest, their unchaste heads. The rest
you know. She decided she would keep it—
the anger that was not yet contempt
for you—like a balloon tied to the wrist,
casting its little shadow, little stigma.

Willie Lin lives and works in Chicago, Illinois. She is the author of the chapbooks Instructions for Folding (Northwestern University Press, 2014) and Lesser Birds of Paradise (MIEL, 2016).