That summer in New Jersey, I kissed my best friend.
I held his hand in my car and he put his lips to mine
and I kept it a secret for a month, kept our 2am’s in
my car for only us to know. I was afraid of what it
meant, or what it didn’t mean, but I always drove
slower when he was laughing in my passenger seat.
He was seventeen and falling in love with me while
I pretended not to notice. He wasn’t any good with
words but I always found mixtapes in my glovebox.
He never called me his girlfriend because I asked
him not to; he could have loved someone else
so much better. But he didn’t.
I kissed him in corners when our friends weren’t
looking, he held me with hands that knew where
I had been. He didn’t kiss the scars because
he kissed every part of me. This was before I
understood that I loved him. “You’re incredible,”
he said, “I’m not giving up.”
3:55 am • 30 September 2013
2000 miles of memories (based on silverchest by carl phillips).
Unloved is what we were, I think, and then loved,
though it mostly seemed nervous. I crossed my fingers,
I didn’t sleep, I worried, I loved you.
My first time loving another
and you didn’t kiss my scars
because you kissed every part of me.
The first morning beside you
I didn’t want to wake up.
You: the first one that stayed.
You, who have been the only one that
gave the love back even when
I didn’t know how to give it
in the first place.
3:35 am • 30 September 2013
eighteen (based on nineteen by elizabeth alexander).
That winter in New Jersey was my first taste of alcohol, girls,
and real friendship. I was pretending I knew how to make
mojitos on a Friday night, impressing a pretty girl with
a boyfriend I thought I could be friends with. I made friends
with midnight and the chill of walking the mile to her house,
lying to my mother the whole way there. I was acting older
than I had to be, like I had done it all before; my shaking hands,
nervous lips, and words that stumbled out like my steps up her
stairs proved I was lying.
I was eighteen and scared, smoking a cigarette out her
window like it was how I ended each of my nights.
She was smart, studied in France, was offering me rum
and coke from a bottle stashed in her closet. I mumbled
words about her boyfriend, she kissed my worries away
with hands that didn’t seem concerned about their two
years in love. She was the sophisticated straight girl who
liked books, wine, and the small of my back.
My first time with a pretty girl was her seventeenth drunken
night, but I let myself believe my being the second girl meant
it meant something. This was before I understood that sloppy
kisses at one am were just and only that. She kissed me to sleep
and I stared at her ceiling, already stained with the memory
of my shaking voice asking her confident hands how much
she had to drink. “I’ve been sober for an hour,” she smirked,
“but we’ll blame the alcohol.”
3:34 am • 30 September 2013 • 1 note
I am ten years old and our house is filled with smoke.
It was my idea to go to the park, leave Dad with the turkey;
Dad fell asleep, but my mother’s eyes tell me it is my fault. She and my aunt are racing to open windows, turn on fans,
get rid of my mistake. I am stuck to my cousin like she is
the last ledge in the entire world left to hang onto - if only I
had known then how many times I would have to be her’s.
The turkey is burnt and my aunt is yelling as my mother
collapses in a kitchen chair. I cannot fathom how Thanksgiving
- how anything - will go on after I have ruined the whole thing.
And then my dad starts peeling potatoes.
He hands my cousin a cutting board, vegetables, a salad
bowl and a smile. He sits me on the counter and lets me
mash my guilt into starchy lumps of indifference. This is
always what my dad has taught me about my mother.
My mother, who is finally laughing, as Thanksgiving goes
on around her, in a tiny yellow kitchen with tiny yellow tiles
and tiny little me me, too young to be feeling this self-pity guilt trip.
My cousin nudges me and helps me sneak some of the candied
yams my mom yelled at us to stay away from. We giggle over the
tension and I realize that it is my cousin’s job to teach me this laughter.
We are a generation of stubborn women, with fire deep in their lungs.
Finally we are at the table, eating turkey sandwiches from deli meat
my uncle spent two hours trying to find. My mother hands me the
prayer we read each year, ironies of forgiveness in her
shaken-from-anger hands; I feel the bottom half of me becoming
shaken-from-nervousness legs. She holds my hand. She squeezes
it at the line about patience, again at the line about love.
I am now curled on the couch with relief, pumpkin pie, and my
family, looking around at my mother teasing Uncle Paul for his
accent while he tries to perfect his English, my Aunt Trisha teasing
my cousin about a boy while my cousin hides her wrists, and my dad,
teasing me about taking too much pie while I put my half-eaten plate down.
I am ten years old and I can see are full of clumsy tongues
and awkward hands that cannot always open a window to let out our smoke.
3:26 am • 30 September 2013 • 1 note
your morning voice.
I watched the glow of her cigarette after cigarette, smoking like this is what she has always done,
bending her back from what she’ll claim was a long hard day,
though I know better than anyone she barely woke up an hour ago.I am watching her like a nighthawk in the day, confused and afraid to look anywhere else - she still has me in the palm of her hands she’ll tell you she hates just to get a compliment
and I cannot decide if I am angry or upset or just so damn in love
with the way her voice sounds after waking up next to me, ripe and dripping
like the pomegranate seeds she was always leaving on the kitchen table
because I always cleaning up after her pomegranate heart but my God
if she gave me the chance again I would eat it up like the very last slice.
3:25 am • 30 September 2013
loneliness in a black dress.
When loneliness comes to you
as a crying ex-lover,
invite her in for tea.
Compliment her shoes,
invite her to take them off and stay a while.
But close the bedroom door -
she won’t need to stay the night.
She will bring up her family
in distant places, painting you pictures
of life before the pain - do not pity her.
Instead, ask her if she’d like milk or cream.
Let her unwind - she needs to be here
just as much as you want to kick her out.
Resist the urge to ignore her hiccuped
sobs. Do not insult her, do not yell,
simply wrap her in a blanket
and enjoy the company.
But then she’ll tell you that you are wrong.
Dinners alone, single-scooped ice cream,
one too-large wine glass on the table.
She’ll invite you to cry with her, to wrap
the darkness around you in a blanket and
forget the good job, the solid family,
your favorite city.
She will ask you to run away with her.
Take your feet off the couch, go to the
door, even with steps made of iron,
and open it. When she gets the message,
when she slinks out the door, leaving
a cloud of smoke behind her, leave
her cup where it is; she will be
expecting it again tomorrow night.
3:24 am • 30 September 2013 • 2 notes
This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done,
not waking up to you and lazy kisses
and pancakes on Saturday. And I am
so afraid of new love finding you
or finding me or life getting in the way
because 2000 miles is enough and I am
so sad at the thought because four years
is too long to feel this way but I feel you
entering my bloodstream and it is so
slow for me - my blood is slow - I have
learned to take it so slow but I love you
so much that I feel the stars underneath
my skin and I am bleeding milky ways
to get to you and I do not know what
to do or what this means but I am so
scared to lose everything when I am just
finally learning how to love.
3:21 am • 5 September 2013 • 5 notes
i love you
I want to bring the summer
with me, fold it up into my
pocket like the note you
wrote me on the night I
almost fell apart because
I did not know that love
could be kind and good
and everything that was right
and I am kicking myself
for not looking in your eyes
when I said those words
and I am kicking myself for
not being able to stop thinking
about how hard these months
will be without those eyes
but mostly I am missing you
and mostly I do not know how
to do this but most of all I am
loving you with every inch of
my heart across every inch
of this country because I
swear to God, I will try.
3:39 am • 27 August 2013 • 2 notes
i’ve never said goodbye
I could write about the first time
and how your skin melted into
mine like a sunlight I had been
terrified of and I could write
about the last goodbye and how
I am already afraid of the light
pouring out of my soul the minute
you drive away but I am trying
to keep the words on the night
in your car when you held my
hand the whole drive home
and it did not remind me of anything
or anyone but only of how hard
I had fallen for you. You are no
longer reminiscent of heartbreaks
past you are no longer everything
I am afraid of because I am no longer
scared to feel you and I do not know
what that means but I do know that
autumn was always my favorite season
until it meant two thousands miles from you.
12:48 pm • 25 August 2013
i don’t want to leave.
I do not love you
- and that is okay -
but I can feel myself
getting pulled down
into it and if my steps
weren’t being pulled
opposite my heart,
I think I could love you
with everything I have
been afraid of knowing
I had, and that is the
very hardest part.
1:02 am • 14 August 2013