after Rachel McKibbens
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, splitting a pair of earbuds
plugged into a song as if sharing
Afternoons where we stayed in
our pajamas and played video games
and he bought us twin bodega sandwiches
and remembered mine
without the meat.
And while I look back on these 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 every 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 trust 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
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