In the poem “Short Time” by Jaime An Lim, the writer tells the story of a persona and a one night stand. The poem begins at night in alleys and parks—public domain—and then eventually transitioning to a much more private place, as derived from “thin walls, thinning mattresses” wherein the persona and the addressee engage in what appears to be physical, sexual activity. However, once the morning comes, despite the intimate sexual encounter that took place the previous night, the persona is left alone to bask in his/her own loneliness.
In the first stanza, the persona is seen to be observing the men “hanging out at night / in all the parks and alleys of the world.” The persona is “haunted” by their “sadness” and recognizes the looks on their faces conveying “a whole vocabulary of need.” This indicates the calculative aura of these men, who “wait and meander / weighing, measuring” whether or not to satisfy their sexual needs despite the consequences.
In the second stanza, the scenery abruptly changes from alleys and parks to “thin walls, thinning mattresses” suggesting that the persona and the then introduced addressee have moved to a private location, most likely a motel room. The setting, as well as “to this room, no less anonymous” signifies the secrecy of this act in the poem. No one, especially since they are already hidden in the dead of night, can be there to judge the persona and addressee for what they are doing. It is only the two of them.
“Tonight you are the dream / who walks in my waking sleep, / who bears miraculously / the shape voice motion of remembered love.” Shown in these lines, the addressee is, to the persona, a ‘dream.’ Dreams are fleeting, unreal, and often only experienced at night. This suggests that the addressee is someone who can only be with the persona for a “short time” as alluded in the title itself. The “shape voice motion of remembered love” may suggest that to the persona, their sexual encounter was more than just skin on...