an unsent letter

in a burst of metal you burned too soon –
it was only last month that we sat
at the edge of the pond,
dust on our palms and peach juice still sticky
on our lips and fingers.

tiny palaces had lined our street,
and we found solidity in structure:
low sloped ceilings,
stone pillars,
perfect squares and perfect circles,
wooden staircases whose steps
led to safe spaces floating between
the roof’s dark tiles.

as we dreamed of the temple of heaven
lying radiant among the golden clouds,
your face was suffused with dying light.
butterflies followed us incessantly then.
they brushed over our heads
as we flipped through our books.

i was a coward.
afraid of change,
i didn’t want to leave
those bright dusty days,
our pond and our peaches,
our books and our butterflies,
so you volunteered to go instead.

(my biggest regret –
i should have screamed then,
clung to your arm
so that you stayed.
screaming later didn’t bring you back.)

at the train station,
gunfire left you
in flames.

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