The ladder gets me but half-way to the cool of your stone, so I must climb the rest to reach the gladiolus wilting into dust, your silent neighbor until guilt brings me to your sweeping. I come this time with your sutra learned by heart, sweetened only by the tea and bread you used to prepare for me just over these hills that brown over now in the third year of your absence. They still call it the happy valley, a name that never appealed to your ear more attuned to the pair of nightingales that stopped singing when you did not come to hear the news over breakfast. By the time the pat of butter had melted, you too were gone, and I would not brave the trams with you again thereafter in the uniform you had patched with callused fingers needled to bleeding. The valley has you now, I know, but I come sweeping only to beg for something more than your forgiveness, something that kept me believing in the wish of a name, for the middle of mine still carries your own.
-- Travis Lau recently completed his Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania Department of English. His research interests include eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British literature, the history of medicine, and disability studies. His academic writing has been published in Journal of Homosexuality, Romantic Circles, English Language Notes, Digital Defoe, and Disability Studies Quarterly. His creative writing has appeared in The Deaf Poets Society, Wordgathering, Assaracus, Rogue Agent, Up the Staircase Quarterly, and QDA: A Queer Disability Anthology (Handtype Press, 2015). [travisclau.com]