ATLAS, AT LAST
Perhaps I did defeat the past. Yet it grew, nevertheless.
When time continues, it will be a form of mercy.
Meanwhile, they say forgiveness is the truest weapon.
As proof, something in the light yesterday twisted the moon.
When the morning of tomorrow breaks, perhaps so will we.
I told everyone when J. died, I’ll try to live
harder, like hitting the waves so fast I risk crashing,
I risk everything. My feeble and weak soul.
May it never rest on anything for more than a year.
Tell me, am I more brave because of this?
What if the doctors are right, and even the soles
of the feet heal, how will we survive
this long and beautiful life?
Across the hills, horses gallop, backwards
and into the woods. The language is too late.
I am calling out for help from this bed,
and perhaps that always was my error.
Deluge of my youth, flooding the present
with love from somewhere far.
I miss my friends, even the ones I haven’t met.
There we all are in my mind, like some species of dream.
There is just so much time. How many more
memories will I have to hold? Meanwhile,
Atlas is coughing tonight. His eyes, red
and fire bearing, he just can’t believe it.
Are you telling me life continues?
Happiness grows on me like a devil.
Atlas, in his power, claims —
lay your head upon my feet,
for I am more ruined than anyone.
Haolun Xu was born in Nanning, China. He immigrated to the United States in 1999 as a child. He was raised in central New Jersey. His writing has appeared in Electric Literature, Narrative, Gulf Coast, jubilat, and more.