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Absolution in Absence

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  • 3 min read

by Cailey Tin

The formatting for this poem will break on small screens, so it is also available as a PDF download.

Whenever I wake from dreams, the dawn’s
first light//echo//sensation I recall from it is conscience,
but the feeling distorted. A memory sunbathing
beneath an angry sky
as it spreads out her hands, like a bird split open, as if
to say, I know there are ruby
tides emerging from my insides & dripping
coloring into the lakes, staining the prettiest meadows, oozing in
my back like ointment seeping back into the packet
it came from. But look how much ground I’ve covered
since the sickness started spreading, now it only travels
with the speed of a coin trapped inside
an ice cube. What
a miracle! Disease, like a currency, purely breaks

free when the ice melts, so say whatever the fudge
you want, but there’s nothing I can do about it; call me cold
for flying off to some bitter desert. Call my heart made of ice for
not taking you with me, where we could’ve voyaged from
the lakes & meadows to a place with extreme flash floods
together; so much
fun, you said, being together, dancing in the rain! I wonder how you’d love
cloudburst, torrential downpours rushing to fill in the hole
of my ailing vessels, too hollow, like an empty pen holder, leaving
a signature on every landform I’ve passed
by with an inky, bright-
cherry-type-of-scarlet puddle. It has a low viscosity as

fluid as a bird’s flight, each graceful swoop echo-
ing in the crimson
spill, a duet of elements between air & blood. I wonder why,
after the night’s temperature
drop sucks up all the crisp brittle
air, I still dream in this barren land without you & the first
fragment//reverie//haunting I recollect from it after coming
to is your dry mouth, dripping
with licorice & something
red, pressed against every wounded feather—yes, this is
the part when the bird soars
into the picture, pale & colorless, beak broken
from apologizing. You once told me, your mind can forget but your body
can’t finish remembering. How wise
for someone who still believes in fairy
tales & clings to the illusion of my speedy recovery, our
swift reunion. We often think of how fast light travels,

& observing you, I can say the same with color. Your
lips & cheeks are like reservoirs, the way they’re an artificial
lake you tinted pink, & how its hue drained like
lightning fast. Cosmetics washed away like a hopeful valley,
overeager for harvests, then hit with a burst of change, & suddenly
it’s undergoing a drought
on time-lapse. I don’t blame you & your face. I’m sorry
for the color fleeing from your cheeks as I winged
off. I promise my reasons exceed beyond time & water
shortages. You’re oblivious to how only below,
zero keeps my sickness from melting, from spreading
like inky puddles, from further clotting. You don’t know enough
about clotting, or rather, how the body remembers, but the mind
numbs in memory. You haven’t seen me frost-
bitten & tear-streaked, a statue beneath
a tenebrous sky, shuddering with relief that
you’re not beside me. Because look around,
who can forgive in this place

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