The Other Rebel after your last words, “you cannot have us both.” Your open lips on my chest—what I heard last, what stayed the longest, second only to white noise that began when you left, fever-faced, for your cherry blossom garden, an island of impermanence, Mono no aware, where nothing lasts. Transience is not a language hearts speak. Mine was taught to speak longevity, the why not try and try again. How I ended up with the two of you was not the work of desire, but of truths unfolding inside me more than yours, pages of a red red rose revealing how three hearts could bloom from rebellions. That night, I stayed at my only spot to take root, learning to find essence in the ephemera, how cherry blossoms bloom together only to die at once. *Mo no aware is a Japanese term used to describe the cultural idea of impermanence, especially one associated with cherry blossoms. The Other Rebel para Victor I don’t know what your departure taught me. Our last night was no tea ceremony. (I didn’t know the essence of tea until a decade later.) My heart lost its tongue after a series of silence interlocking like columns of a wooden pagoda. I had no wood left, no pillar to keep me still and learn from moments, what we were always taught: forgive, distance, undo. It was silence I swallowed when you left. A Karakuri doll that only turned around as soon as you lifted its weight, facing a wall until it’s wound again for tea time. I imagine how many gods you will meet. Benzaiten, flowing, flowing from the past, Idaten, speeding into the future. Kami in everything we touched.