Pieces of a Better Life

March 25, 2022


It comes and goes like a fever,

The fear

It comes and goes like the water,

Draws near

And then pushes back to the ocean

So clear

But the beaches are closed

And there is nobody here.


We learn to make do with our houses

And rooms,

Learn to make poetry, learn how 

To Zoom

Between places so far and people


We ask when it ends,

They answer us, soon.


I saw out my window a woman


I saw her eyes turning the stars

Into soot,

I saw her mask take in the air

That I took,

I saw her, she saw me, 

I stared and she looked.


“Where are you going?” I asked,

She replied:

“Down to the graveyard, to see where

he lies.”

“He?” I repeated, for fear, and

I cried

To think that a life

In my life could die.


She saw me cry out and her eyes

Swept away,

She stepped into darkness which smothered

Her face;

I did something wrong, I fell out 

Of place,

She left me, she left me,

She left for the grave.


So now as I sit in my bedroom

I stew 

On thoughts and feelings of all shades

Of blue,

The dark ocean, yes, but the morning

Sky too;

I call talk and text 

My family and friends,

I hold on, I laugh,

And I learn to make do.


I love, as I loved

That woman I knew.


A Letter to Søren Kierkegaard

I have dreamed


once, in a fitful slumber

that you came crawling through the window

that same thoughtful smile, and said—

“Regine, love,

Sail with me

To the edge of the world

Where the sea laps against a wall of stars,

And underneath the hanging moon I will say

I love you

And I will mean it.”


On Sunday they sent that little letter

and I sent Frederik to snip the flowers.

There in bold was my name—

I can still trace the loops of your loving lines,

curl, caress, cream, cut

the top open and spill the insides out.


“What I wish to give expression to is that to me an engagement was and is just as binding as a marriage, and that therefore my estate is her due, exactly as if I had been married to her.”


As if.

You, my as if husband

As if Abraham

did not sacrifice Isaac.


The last time I saw you

before I sailed away, I held out

my hand.

How different we would be

if life was not either, or


but and.




meet me

at the place where we first met,

beside the river 

that churns through the glade.



I have.



take me

to the wide-open plains,

teach me the names

of every cow in your herd. 



I will.



tell me

your favourite story

under the cassia tree,

above the flowering grass.



I promise.



hold me

in the autumn moonlight,

pray to the gods

that winter will never come.



I can’t.


Then, beloved,

send me

a message through the river

that cuts us in half;

love me if you can’t meet me, 

know me if you can’t take me,

think of me if you can’t tell me,

hold onto me if you can’t hold me.



I am.


One day we will meet in the middle.


Nobel ChanNobel Chan is an undergraduate student at Boston University, studying English and Deaf Studies. Hailing from Hong Kong, she loves reading, writing, and musical theatre. Her work has been published in several magazines, including Applause. She hopes to continue writing poetry and short stories in the future.



Featured Image by gryffyn m on Unsplash


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