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Red Paint

/milla van der have

ox and mandarin | an almost love story

night has shed like old fur bitter, comes morning

Ox walks and Mandarin walks

each in their own particular each on their own side of homecoming

each with their own proclivity of being read and being read again

they haven’t yet met they maybe never will

so many past lives to carry

Ox has been a hammer to drive away friends with

Mandarin has been a knight with damsels Mandarin has been the stalwart armour against malfunctions of the flesh

and now they have wrapped themselves around Ox’s ankles,

to suffer the fate of what has been found weighing and wanting

they sometimes think of past lives as a maze of their own making

(which is often called dying but this is not that)

Ox walks and Mandarin walks

Ox and Mandarin each move with their pellets of truth

because some things work best in small doses some things spell themselves unseen

for Ox it’s a life professed because secrets are like a river

and Mandarin thinks it is the slow toll of hours

either way the silt will cover you

there’s always violence needed for anything good to be made no creation is out of nothing no creation is without end

and how is telling a story different from getting lost only because you think you know the way

(knowing the way is overrated, the elders would say just as much as knowing where you are)

only because you can feel your way home while you can’t even feel your way out of one body to the next

out of the slick coat out of the long spool

out of the traces of blood out of the death throes

a story means getting lost and getting lost again which is the most familiar thing

a story means tracing your own steps

until they no longer are yours to trace

a story means running your finger over the sharp end of the abyss

until you find exactly where it hurts

until you find it waiting

to be met

Milla van der Have is a Dutch poet writing in English.

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