The latest in a biweekly poetry series curated by Hanif Abdurraqib

Back when it was warm, and I had enough freedom

To get lost with, I took

The bus to its unfamiliar corners

Where all the lanes peeled away, leaving

Bare stretches of land, flat colors

Dotted with silhouettes that were nowhere

In particular; fading in and out

Of the landscape until I came to a house, a woman

Who pulled back her roof to let the fireflies in.

And I, just as glowing one moment and hidden

The next, let the wind carry me in

Past static TV, through flurries of beating fists,

And there was fighting, yeah,

But also our hands thrown up

In joy, done in unison

Like streetlights when the background was filled in

With black ink, and there was darkness

But there was shading too, in carpets

Of loose sketchbooks, on our artist's skin

Along with our uncertain futures.

My time there blurred boundaries, I learned how

The devils crept up from hell

To mutter lies on live broadcast,

How to silence them with the press of a button

When the brown-eyed future needed to be fed,

The world a solved puzzle in his hands.

But when I was gone all I had to offer

Anyone who asked

Was that it was a house dropped from the sky,

Only landing out of some forgotten loyalty to the earth,

Full of the deep rooted thing that says No need

To run, to fly no more.

And so I was brought to the bus stop,

Leaving one house for another when I saw myself

Begin to fade away, my skin into blistered wallpaper

My eyes into dust-coated lightbulbs, my feet

Fleeing until my shoes sat

With their backs against the sidewalk.

And sometimes kids who know me by my name

Hurl it back at me as they drive past,

And when I flinch at its sound I remember

Where all the talk about collecting fireflies came from.

The radiant feel of trading words

For flickering lights,

Gently parting the horizon's clasped hands to speak.