after Mark Halliday

Eric Tran

Before the sleepless weekend in a borrowed apartment, before the subway where we screamed until it was clear we belonged to each other and ourselves, before we learned all the ways not to cut each other’s hair, before I binged on Sun-Maid because his yellow box American Spirits smelled like raisins, before he said he wouldn’t move in when I didn’t ask, before the piles of rejected drafts of poems (kill your darlings for your darlings), before the crying in the Home Depot over the size of his lawn mower blades, before the crying in the New American restaurant over Manhattans I couldn’t afford, before the summer of shared short-sleeved shirts printed with arrows and bears and the entire cosmos, before the nights on the porch when bugs slammed themselves against the windows in pursuit of light, before the scarred and bleeding ankles, back nearly to the first lunch with phlegm and chain-smoking, to the accidental brush of hands at karaoke, to slow dancing to Mama Kass under construction lights, back nearly to that first old-fashioned, to those tequilas on the rocks, to the games of spin the bottle when we were crowded out by lesbians—yes, nearly back to the softness of Jade’s lips—we were at Wrightsville beach at dusk, waiting for the supermoon. It was supposed to be the brightest moon of the year, but all we had was a jigsaw of clouds. I brought a picnic basket with dates and olives and hot tea with lemon and honey, but when the thermos cooled, the moon still hadn’t shown. I wanted to go to bed, where we hadn’t met in weeks, but he pulled us out a few minutes longer and then a few more. It’ll come, he said, like I hadn’t heard it before. And then, in the time it took me to look from his wrists to his eyes to the sky, the clouds parted. There was the light. I can’t remember how yellow it was or its reflection on the black ocean. I can only hear his voice in my ear, how it still feels, living in my chest—Patient. We have to be patient.


Eric Tran is the author of the chapbook Affairs With Men in Suits (Backbone Press). His work appears in Crab Orchard Review, Indiana Review, Hobart, and Redivider, among other places. He is a medical student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and holds an MFA from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Find more at