Margaret Ezra Zhang

The Two Times I Loved You Most in LA


Once, upon Ubering across UCSB to meet

our respective Internet boyfriends, we took a selfie

in the mirror of a public restroom. It was the first time

in a week we would be apart,

but it was okay because the boyfriends

were the filler episode. In the mirror,

I mistook, briefly,

your face for my own. You left the bathroom

first, peeling from me

like a space ranger from her helmet

for the first time.

Another time, at the party hostel, we didn’t party

but instead went to the balcony

to watch people smoke. An older Korean couple, eyeing us

with a loneliness that transcends language, offered you

half a cigarette. Among the four of us, we exchanged a total

of four sentences—the rest were fragmented,

like broken rice. Under the orange

of the cigarette light, we were not four beings but two

pairs. Later you asked

if you could sleep in my bunk even though

we had paid for two. I kept waiting

for you to fall asleep, but you were waiting

for me to fall asleep.


Margaret Ezra Zhang lives in New York. A Best New Poets and Pushcart Prize nominee, they have attended the Tin House Poetry Workshop and been recognized by the Poetry Society of the UK. They have a BA in English from the University of Pennsylvania. Read their work in Waxwing, The Louisville Review, Salt Hill Journal, and other publications, or find them at or on Twitter @margomargoing