I Push Back the Images and Climb into Bed
The blanket tucks my head away from the world.
My eyelids shut.
My knees fold into my stomach, and then
the plane you boarded to Orlando
crashes in Georgia before you can make your way to me.
It’s my fault for missing you, my fault for leaving in the first place.
My eyes open.
My nose draws shaky breaths.
My eyelids return to their resting place.
My cell phone rings.
My sister has to pass her boyfriend the phone because
she can’t tell me our mom has passed.
My eyes squinch.
My body rolls itself over.
My knees cling closer to my stomach.
My dad won’t make it through the day.
They say there’s nothing to be done.
I wish evolution provided a why or a backup plan.
My body springs up.
The blanket falls beside me.
I can only examine darkness.
My body is tired.
I lay myself down.
My eyes relax shut.
My sister was in an accident.
It happened in an instant.
There was nothing to prevent it.
My body turns to face the other wall.
In through my nose.
Out through my mouth.
A boy drew a gun at my brother’s school.
They tried to barricade the classroom, but locks
don’t stop bullets, and my brother was closest to the door.
“They found her when she was a puppy,”
I tell you. You wince when you hear they hit her.
They say dogs who bare their teeth
are bad. She licked your face when you sat
on the floor and covered you in her hair.
Now when you collect your phone and keys
on Sunday mornings, she watches you
like she watches me. The sound of paws
up your staircase faded into your frequent
presence on my sheets. At the grocery store,
you remind me to get more of my favorite, so I
don’t have to come back for it. I pull the pie
from the oven and cut two pieces; you call for Mila
to join you on my bed. When neither of us can sleep,
you run to the store and offer to get more of the favorite
I said I wouldn’t need. I pack two lunches into plastic
containers and slide them into my bag before kissing
Mila’s head. You hold open the front door, and
I follow you to the car where I press play
on another podcast. You offer me your headphones.
Fridays are shorter for me, and you don’t work them.
You text me, wondering
where I want to meet you. I can see you
smiling through the window of your Toyota,
and I start walking faster. I make us
pumpkin shakes, and you smile
when I suggest the same sitcom for the third time.
You spend the night helping me carry things destined
for my parents’ home. When we get to
their house, you lie in the cold
basement while I sit with them and my brother.
In the morning, I can’t fit
the last box in my best friend’s car, so we
start pulling items out to wiggle them
into open spaces. I can only say goodbye
so many ways before I climb in
with almost everything I own.
My new bedroom has two windows.
I toss my favorite blanket over my bed.
I keep a book I still haven’t finished
over my headboard. I get used to not hearing
your voice faster than I thought I would.
Your sentences are short
when we’re on the phone, and you don’t tell me
stories about your week.
Mila’s eyes follow me as I gather my things
for work, and I walk with my phone
in my chest pocket, so I can hear the music.
On my trek back home in the dark, I call
my mom or I call my best friend, and we laugh.
I throw my clothes in the hamper and make myself
a plate. Mila scampers wildly from the kitchen
back to my room.
I smile and ask her what she thinks
of a walk in the park tomorrow.
I lie down and fall asleep
to the same movie I did last night.