California

By Anton Yakovlev

Someone’s been shot. Someone’s still trying to break
the invisible wall. We all live in the yellow.
You take the bus without pain. A perfect Victorian
conclusion to a terrifying Sunday night. I have postcards
of you smiling. What a shock to find you in love—
the gratitude of it, the warmed-up park benches,
the Zen of coming back to the same ice cream.
Our hearts won’t leave us alone. Well, we weren’t trying
to be alone. We’re too focused on immortality,
which means reflection in the eyes of the not-yet-dead.
We stare at lava. Sometimes we throw money at grief.
If we had questions, they’ve all been drowned.
You were good at shutting the shutters.
Today California almost reached them with a paintbrush.
Old movies love us without bringing back our friends,
now dead, who watched them with us. Of course,
we are also deader now, even in love. The TV show about
the vodka-drinking policeman playing basketball with a fish
now feels like a quirky mentor, and we start crying.
When you hail the cab to the next moment,
don’t forget to pick up your previous mind from the puddle,
just for archival purposes. I will never forget you.