I know it’s you because of the afterswells
of sobbing trembling across the phone line.
Driving to your house like following a cow path,
soft familiarity of muscle-memory injected into the cold angles of this city.
The day is still rising, cold and sharp,
a blue pottery shard unearthed.
I step through your door frame, as if hunching into a cave
of Jack Daniel's, cigarette smoke, sweat,
ghost odor of Mike, like choking seawater.
I try to breathe. You are curled upright on the couch,
your skinned knees painting bloodshot eyes swollen before your face.
Your eyeglasses on the floor in front of the unraveling couch,
a capsized hull, red plastic ship, lying on a shattered ocean sheen,
glass sinking into the carpet the way you sink into the couch like a sigh.
I don’t know if you remember how to breathe in.
Shaking fingers laced through mine,
your broken glasses limp in my other,
we step back through the threshold
as if set by waves on the cold sand of January.
Silent car ride. The sky swells above me like pastel balloons
at your wedding
when your thrilled champagne eyes caught mine,
when you knew how to breathe.
I could keep driving.
I could let the wind catch my swelling lungs like a sail, breathe, windows down,
not stop until we reach the coast, sea spray kissing your eyelashes
the way Mike’s rank lips never did,
as you breathe the thin full air.
We could never go back.
I turn into the parking lot, stop, keys lurching,
jangling, loud in the stillness.
Your eyes slowly blinking,
blind as my snow-stained windshield, slate-gray pavement.
The car thrums, engine beating like fists on bruised skin.
You, silent, blinking, unflinching,
forgetting how to breathe.
Elizabeth is a senior in high school and thus does not have an extensive resume but has an extensive love of poetry. Her passion for writing was blown into greater flame after recently attending the Wellspring of Imagination Poetry Workshop where she discovered that poetry has a unique power to bring people together through honest shared experience and emotion. She has been published in the Best Teen Writing of 2013 and will be published in Clover, a Literary Rag this July.