Inez Tan
| poetry


My new roommate’s car is a no man’s land
of things that belonged to an ex-husband
and his ex-wife. My roommate, the mutual
neutral friend, patiently ferries these objects
across town, brokering, listening, shielding
each from the presence of the other.
They’ve taken their lives back
and left the broken body of a disassembled
lamp, antique china wrapped in rags, and
I hate my dirty pity when I think of
how you could have looked at these unloved
vestiges, and loved them. It was not Mary and Christ,
but the beauty of paintings of Mary and Christ
that caused your heart to ache
for the faith you were raised in, and turned from,
no longer holy, but sacred to you still. Did I
give you anything you couldn’t bear to give back?
I have kept your letters to remember the word I lost.

Inez Tan is the author of This Is Where I Won’t Be Alone: Stories, which was a national bestseller in Singapore. As a recent Kundiman fellow, she has won the Academy of American Poets Prize, and her writing has been featured in Rattle, Hyphen, The Rupture, and Fairy Tale Review. She holds an MFA in fiction from the University of Michigan and an MFA in poetry at the University of California, Irvine.

Dream of My Brother inside a Painting in Motion