Gaman: Topaz Concentration Camp, Utah – Kenji C. Liu

after Tina Takemoto

I will paint us together
in lemon and burnt shoyu.

I will squeeze us out of
flour, water, yeast

while you dress
behind the thin curtain

while you flatten
lapel, collar, slacks

in our tightly ironed
tar paper life.

Your tie clip, carved from
ancient wood and not

the real topaz you deserve.
Outside, we shuffle in dust

flap powder
from between our feathers.

I used to be a swamp.
In this government aviary

dust storms can’t be predicted
unlike the government

which splits atoms
the way it did your chest.

Spilled you
on the ancient sea bed.

The mountains blow
their alien breath in you

while sleek muscle men
cactus across my humid eyes.

They don’t stop
to light my cigarette

or palm a slice of
fresh, warm bread.

Now bluebirds trill
from my cuffs

and it’s time to clock out.
Beyond the perfect

frame of this prison city
desert peaks buzz

the rich, rich song
of my hunger.