Tue Dinh

Saigon, March 22, 2003
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march twenty-second, and you

If memories ever come in a can that has to have a shelf life, I hope it’s 10,000 years.
— He Qiwu, from Chungking Express

you told me it’s a ritual taking friends out on their birthdays, and
i must say, with friends, i expected to be surprised by
two you-know-what words, and yet i was surprised
by two cups of kit-kat mcflurry, soft and crunchy mix
with our salty stories of schoolwork, student societies, et cetera—
you with your parents travelling, and mine back in saigon.

like march, we boarded the pouring express, relieved
at our freedom and being all “good for dine-in”,
red vinyl stickers on our chest reminding me
and you of a time for ‘apart’s, you promised
we would meet again.

like march, i boarded the pouring express, the red vinyl dimple
dotting my grey laptop case but alas,
you would leave that saturday
night when all was still and
you alone

alone

alone…
leaving an empty third-floor hdb flat, soulless and cold, if

not for my dorm-mate, who somehow told you of the red vinyl dimple
dotting my grey laptop case.

march boarded the pouring express,
but you were tired to go along. your finger fumbled as you peeled the red
vinyl scab off your chest and smeared it on the lips of the bin
in boon keng, flaking with corpses of red vinyl trash,
ready to smear yourself after thinkingandthinkingandthinking
schoolaloneuglyuglyschoolschoolalone
aloneschoolalone
alone, if
not for my dorm-mate, and that red vinyl scab
dotting the grey laptop case.

i told you it’s a ritual sticking memories on my laptop case, and
you said, with friends, you expected to surprise and
celebrate their birthdays, and yet you were surprised
by a second birthday of your own.

and so, like april, we board the pouring express, and in case
you are tired, i still have the red vinyl band-aid
on my grey laptop case.
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