do you remember the first time you were called annoying?
how your breath stopped short in your chest
the way the light drained from your eyes, though you knew your cheeks were ablaze
the way your throat tightened as you tried to form an argument that got lost on your tongue.
your eyes never left the floor that day.
you were 13.
you’re 20 now, and i still see the light fade from your eyes when you talk about your interests for “too long,”
apologies littering every other sentence,
words trailing off a cliff you haven’t jumped from in 7 years.
i could listen to you forever, though i know speaking for more than 3 uninterrupted minutes makes you anxious.
all i want you to know is that you deserve to be heard
for 3 minutes
for 10 minutes
for 2 hours
there will be people who cannot handle your grace, your beauty, your wisdom, your heart;
mostly because they can’t handle their own.
but you will never be
and have never been
You remember too much,
my mother said to me recently.
Why hold onto all that?
And I said,
Where do I put it down?
You want to talk about my poems but those are not words
I have to give you. I am busy still living in the city where we
fell in love. I’ve papered the walls of my bedroom with maps
of the places that leave your name on my tongue. This is not
the best way to forget you but it’s better than drinking alone.
This black line snakes across the river from my apartment to
your dirty kitchen. I miss the way your breath felt on my neck.
I can’t say I miss you without flinching
The blue dots are the bar stools where we drank whiskey as
I apologized for being a world-class bitch. The green star is
the diner where we got coffee the first morning we woke up
together. I want a tattoo of the first morning we woke up to-
gether. I want the memory to hurt.
There is a burn mark at the center of the Hawthorne Bridge
and you know why. We don’t need to talk about it. I am so
sorry. I am the wrong kind of strong.
I am mad at you because these days being mad at you is as
close as I get to kissing your forehead. It keeps raining but
nothing looks cleaner. Everything in Portland is a postcard
saying “Wish You Were Here!” So many of the books in my
bedroom used to be your books.