“They All Return in Grays and Blues” by Ailin Cao

Let me show you to the anteroom,
atrium if you will. I was myself
for Halloween, unwillingly. The right answer is
“I’m sorry.” Children gulp their breaths,
icy. I pummel you red and you beat it.
Still you run circles through me.
I wish I were scary.

I’ve missed you; I’ve missed you. How have
you been? My gratitude is carmine
and slippery, it decays. I descend shivering down
the stairs. The fat squirrels barely have time
to gasp. I found one on the concrete, spread.
Perhaps he’d had a heart attack.


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