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March 13, 2023


Eliot Li

The orange leaves of Japanese maples in autumn, outside their ryokan.

His betrothed, inebriated, on the tatami mat, her head buried in his robes.

The red scaly rashes on her hands and arms, her face.

The time passing, like a slow train in fog.

The onsen, the outdoor hot spring, snow drifting down on them, dissolving in steam.

The sting of mineral salts on her arms.

The caress of his fingers, wiping the salt away.

The useless medications in their suitcase.

The tubes of steroid creams, lotions, tossed in the trash, as they held each other, melting in the water.