There were days when it looked like love,
especially if you turned down the volume.
But even if you didn’t.
Bus rides asleep on each other’s
shoulders, sharing an ear-bud
plugged into a song
as if sharing a secret.
Afternoons where we stayed in
our pajamas and played video games
after he bought us twin bodega sandwiches
and remembered mine without the meat.
And while I look back
on the memories with equal, if not more
repulsion, I know that I wasn’t an idiot
to stay. That my heart invented
its own verb which meant To Love
The Dog Who Licks The Scar It Gave You.
On a dirty bar couch on Valentine’s Day
he said I would fight with you every morning
if it meant I could kiss you at night and at the time
it didn’t sound like the Codependent National Anthem
or a vending machine where you put in fury
and get out passion
or even like the things I read now
in pamphlets—the ones I thrust upon other women
like my own righteous gospel—
it sounded like the sweetest thing
he’d ever said to me. A poem
I could fold real small and carry
around in my locket, not noticing, for months
how it also kind of
Oh my God, what if you wake up some day, and you’re 65, or 75, and you never got your memoir or novel written; or you didn’t go swimming in warm pools and oceans all those years because your thighs were jiggly and you had a nice big comfortable tummy; or you were just so strung out on perfectionism and people-pleasing that you forgot to have a big juicy creative life, of imagination and radical silliness and staring off into space like when you were a kid? It’s going to break your heart. Don’t let this happen.