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John-Francis Quiñonez (they/them/theirs) reads their poem, “Re: Watching You Without Me.”

John-Francis Quiñonez:

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My name is John-Francis Quiñonez.

I'm an artist and writer. This poem is from a in-progress collection of poems after Kate Bush's Hounds of Love.

I don't claim to be relatable. [LAUGHS] It's called, "

Re: Watching You Without Me,"  and it's about grappling with distance from   a loved one who is non-verbal. It's  for my sister Caitlin Maria Quiñonez. I wish you could say to me what you would when   the arm of my mistful river reaches you (with tiny palms open). In the dream you say I am seeing you as he might to a shell pluck thoughtfully from the glimmer.

Skipping stones curl to cut my rough and changing jaw (small fingers). I fear most that you only sense a change in me. You know me deeper than anyone / Do you?/ Do you like my haircut or does it scare you as much as I am scared of it?/ You can tell me that you don't know my face today/ I don't know/ I do not/ You can tell me/ You can tell I don't know what to do watching you

without me, quiet sister.

I don't. Thumbtacks keep your dreams from curling off my purple walls. Faces with open arms/ bright wax circles on circles - speak lift your chin up to me.

When they become too precious - I do not see them. They sleep in a box until they rise like clouds fresh from under pillows. Can you know the lengths to which I keep your little lights alive or is that just a pearl for pockets?

I have this photo of Maria in the beam of Caitlin's smile and I wonder if what makes a treasure, a treasure is the box you put it in. Call today - a video. Your face - bracketed and then soon gone.

What do you keep in your quiet? My stomach hurts and I can't sleep not knowing if this heavies you/ Can you still pinch flightful things from the air with just your fingers (how)?/ how do you soft this unsoaring?/ take a fluttering thing from the still - a treasure torn from its miracle sibling. Tell me.

Am I as dark as a box beneath the bed? Do you know what an us sounded like before you safed it?/ buried somewhere without language. I am certain I could look,

but how can we talk about this forever?