A Poem by Dakota Alexander
We Exist in the Static
(after Hieu Minh Nguyen)
My love drafts escape plans across oceans
to meet. We exist in negative space
of adventure, doomed to dwell in the static
of separate countries. Our lives stake out frontiered
dead zone jobs and depleted travel dreams,
but she mails love letters to me with potential flights
scribbled in the margins and plots our futures
on one map. When she speaks, I follow
cell tower networks from my studio apartment
confines in Tennessee to the seaswept commotion swallowed
by the culture of her landlocked hometown in Turkey.
We daydream through our harbored nights.
I ask when we will first step off the shore and meet;
she switches subjects to something she deems safe.
We skip our desires across the darkened waters,
skim the surface and try not to sink.
I scroll through flights instead of sleeping,
imagine her curled next to me
and text her refuge promises
throughout our endless days.
She goes out with friends,
celebrates another engagement,
and drinks to forcefade her fear
that she will not find her own bliss–
that Ankara will drown her
in lights reflecting on Susuz Lake.
After hours of tipsy gossip circles
spent sending furtive flirtations
to my messenger, she admits our shared worries first:
I’m afraid you’ll change your mind when we meet.
The words sink the atmosphere between us.
We lie in our beds on a video call
and listen to her music. The longing
in the singer’s tone doesn’t need translation.
My love’s voice wavers melodies along with him,
words soft as a security blanket
wrapping around the moment.
She translates the lyrics for me,
tells me someday I’ll understand
We promise our lives to each other,
plan our futures under the same sky
and murmur our vows to the invisible
crumpled ticket destinies clutched to our chests.
She asks me to stay on the line until she surrenders
to sleep. In our lives of disappointments,
uncertainties, and too many time zone
separations, it's the only way we feel safe.
Dakota Alexander (he/him) is a transmasc individual living in the Southeastern United States with his cats, Kei and Shou, and his dog, Replay. When he isn't working, he is usually found writing, fanboying over kpop or mid-2000s emo/scene music (it wasn’t a phase!), or attending concerts. He has previously been published with Sledgehammer Lit.