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AT LAST, AN ATLAS 

—or not. I told you it is alright to open the
window, since we are on a higher floor, and
because I want to see your face 

as we make love. Late June in Valencia. You
resigned. We lay then in a cube of light. The
wind touched the curtains. You touched 

my heels with your toes. Across 
from the apartment, at the rec. center, kids in
uniform were playing soccer, 

cheers stitching the air like a sewing needle. Of
course, we ourselves had no clothes on, just our
garment of lust, 

a product of delay, whose root was stigma.
Years ago, on my continent, I had said what I
was. And life said, as it says all the time, 

you are not done, child. 
For so long I had indicted the stars. 
Petals of the jacaranda purpled the sidewalks. 

We got up, showered, dressed. You helped find
my glasses, then rushed me out. 
I pressed DOWN on the elevator. In the glass 

of the bus stop, I noticed two missing shirt
buttons. If mercy is occasional 
that occasion was ours.

—John Nguyen

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