by Zaza Karaim, she/her


bordeaux, march 2020

i was half asleep, sweaty and tangled in the blue sheets,

you shifted awake. moved to the window and tossed it open,
the light from the city glinting off your chest

then to the radiator, hair slicked back and glossy,
exhausted fingers fiddling with knobs labelled in an unknown language,

you must have looked back at me as i watched

how perfect i thought you were, battling insomnia,
your mind unknowable, beautiful

you cursed, you were unsettled. a night that offered no dreams.
you had been drunk but now were sober.

i thought nothing as i watched, comfortable
in the fact that you’d return and be beside me.

years later, i can’t sleep myself,
lying awake in another foreign country,
an empty bed.

i wish i could speak to you through time—

i’m wide awake. i’m here with you.


oregon, october 2020

you went missing around sunset
so i went looking,
always scared of being apart too long.

you sat in the half dark on the wooden deck, book stretched open on your knee

the lake below—
a swath of orange, a sky with
ducks and ferns for stars

days we’d spent driving up the coast had landed us here:
miles and miles of redwoods and oak trees and cabins
and bottles of wine left in our broad wake

do you think of it?

you told me you loved me, and it was true, at least, then.

somewhere, you read now—
the spine of the book cracked by anxious fingers,
dog-eared corners.

i borrowed that book later,
loved seeing those bent edges, imagining you as you shut the book
for the evening, knowing exactly what last sentence was in your mind
as you turned off the light to join me in bed,
wherever we were then,
though it was always the same place when we were together.


dublin, november 2021

there is a ghost that i pour a cup of tea for.
it is your ghost. you are silent but i tell you things,
everything i can think of.

in all the houses from all the years,
this one is the loneliest and filled with bones.

in dreams we fight or kiss or sit in silence. i wake,
it nearly kills me.

maybe sometime i’ll pick up the phone, and i’ll beg you:

i hate you so much. won’t you come visit me?