You Li- “Every Night We Sleep and In The Morning Are Reborn Anew”

Night 2190: a double date in a world peopled with our selves through time


We are all four out together at a restaurant-bar
with a view of the kitchen where the chef is kneading,
dusting his hands, folding the loaf until everywhere outside has been inside

It is spring
The trees are blasting pink from their tips
You-2186 is saying to me I was daydreaming about you
We were sitting here and all of a sudden there was a huge explosion
I’m not listening because I’m looking at You-762
and imagining being on all fours,
crawling toward him while tossing my head around,
bouncing my torso between my shoulders and hips like an elastic band
You-762 and You-108 are laughing about something together and
I want to put their hands on each other’s faces

Me-245 walks over
She pours syrup onto the table and spreads it across the surface in several
quick scrapes with a credit card
We all four in sync
cup our hands under the edges so as to catch the driblets
When the band finishes we can clap only once
We laugh

The night blackens fully and
You-108 meanders to the bar where Me-108 sits,
arching so deftly
head just ready to tilt
You-762 disappears, regretfully, beyond
my vision in search of Me-762, under the soft grey sky
and Me-456 walks to You-459 posing on the edge of dance floor

I wait for an explosion to break the night
I look from Me- to Me-
They are a tulip opening fast
Maybe the explosion is laughter
The syrup was gasoline
You spread your body on the floor next to mine
though we cannot be as smooth as the linoleum
We breathe freely below the dust of Ourselves
infinitesimal sparkling wedges driving through the air


You Li is a law student and poet who was born in Beijing, grew up in central Illinois and Philadelphia, and lives in New York. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in the Nassau Literary Review, Two Cities Review, and Lunch Ticket. She has been awarded a scholarship from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference.