should i

i’m acutely aware of

the presence of a blue ballpoint pen

on the street in front of the house next door.

 

it’s been there since we moved in.

 

each time i see it, the question:

should i pick it up?

but then i remember:

it’s the same pen that’s been

left out in the soggy grey tuesdays,

the muggy sundays,

the breezy, humming friday nights and that

it’s my own mind

that remains hopeful, curious, confused

to discover,

with a start,

that i already know the answer.

degrassé

last night,

i watched as a satellite

carved a lazy path across

the memory of all other nights

spent staring at the stars.

 

i turned back to find your face lit up by

a moon rising electric above the rooftops,

hanging bright enough

to illuminate our fears,

as big as the sky,

as small as the space between us.

second to last day

miss do you think i should cut my hair

for my interview at the courthouse? you

asked me today.

 

do i think you should cut your hair?

the hair that took you a year to grow,

the hair that marks you

the kind of person

who would have been

my kind of person–

the spray-painting cracked parking lots at dusk and

swinging on the playground in the dark kind of person–

if we’d gone to school together?

 

no.

i don’t.

but what i think

and what the world thinks

aren’t the same, are

in fact

growing more and more heartbreaking

in their difference.

i tried again–

i needed more poetry.

 

but now

i’m not sorry i haven’t answered you as i’m not certain

you would believe me if i told you

there was no poetry in that afternoon.

 

instead i found it

on a side street in jp,

alone in the dark in some part of the city

i’ve never seen before.

 

instead i found it

in the pouring rain,

the steep streets turned to rivers,

the raindrops shattering the orange of the streetlights to pieces.

 

later,

as I peel off my wet clothes in the quiet of my room

i marvel

at the shape of my life

 

how strange,

how heavy,

how full.

for emily

it’s been three years without you.

the bookmark they gave out at your funeral

is still hanging up in my room.

i look at it every day.

 

what i dream of is an art of balance.

 

my dreams are off-kilter these days,

these years,

this lifetime.

wonky the way life

ultimately always is.

 

wish you were still a part of it.

this girl

whose rightful place is here beside me–

who’s no, literally, that smart,

but like, people see the

name of the high school and just

throw out the application

 

what is there to say?

what is there to do but smile until

you can leave the room and let the tears fall,

make some worksheets that feel,

if not pointless then

a styrofoam sword when

the world calls for steel–

and try to get enough sleep.