Smoking cigarettes with a new friend in Silver Lake,
I felt a jolt hearing him say Lorimer and Metropolitan,
then mention the bar on the corner with goblets of beer.
That life sidling its way into this one. I left Brooklyn
for Los Angeles after deliberation, traded familiar syllables
Bedford and Driggs for Virgil, Hyperion. My friend sipped
his Pilsner. I love New York, he said simply, and I love LA.
I felt like a clear glass into which liquid is poured. Of course
it is possible to hold both cities inside me. Just as it was possible
to love multiple people at once. Last fall, after the threesome
and the triangle that followed, people invariably asked
Which one do you like better? To ask was to misunderstand
my delight. Joy accrues. How lucky that new love doesn’t
necessitate an unloving. We finished our drinks, a thin ring
of foam still visible, the same shape as the tattoo that bands
my ex’s forearm. Concentric circles, all of my lives and loves.
The bartender stacked empty glasses inside one another.
The wind moved from east to west, refusing to name a favorite.
NATASHA RAO is the author of Latitude, which was selected by Ada Limón as the winner of the 2021 APR/Honickman First Book Prize. The recipient of a 2021 Ruth Lilly & Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation, she has also received fellowships from Bread Loaf, the Vermont Studio Center, and the Community of Writers. Her work appears in The Nation, American Poetry Review, The New York Times Magazine, The Yale Review, and elsewhere.