The black was congealing around us but it wasn’t
dark enough—the bus stop lights lived
bright for the city to watch us spoil.
I thought this was going to be another girl,
another poem—maybe it is. Or maybe
it’s that you showed me things with your mouth
I’d never seen before. Forget the pen.
Forget the paper. I needed my tongue
to learn the words again, and you coached my lips
to open, to curl, to revive the part of me
choked in my stomach. The sounds clung to me
like a film of sweat, so I sat there sweating.
The night stretched so wide—I felt myself
lulled into its gaping mouth.
But then you lit my cigarette, fed me dry cereal.
I couldn’t taste it, but it scratched my throat raw
because I was alive. Because we were
two girls at the bus stop—waiting,
but not for the bus.

About the Author

Lela Ni is a freshman at University of Southern California studying creative writing. She is a 2018 YoungArts finalist in poetry, and her writing has been recognized by Penguin Random House, the Brooklyn Public Library, and the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. She is originally from New York, New York.