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like chapped lips and bare legs in
weak texas winters, trembling,
secondhand tea that doesn’t warm your hands.
i will not feel these months anymore.
i am buying coats.
here is the sharpness
of spearmint in the cracks of my lips,
exhaust fumes in dry eyes.
it’s been a long time since
i’ve stood on this sidewalk and shivered,
spilled coffee down my sleeves with regret
for letting it get cold.
like taillights, half an hour on I-30 when
i know exactly how to curl into the road.
night falls like a sheet shaken
over a bed, drifting down, full of ripples.
i can’t fall asleep in my bed anymore;
all my dreams fell out on the sidewalk and
they’re still looking for the bus stop.
i trace old routes that take longer,
but they don’t feel the same.
taillights blink in braille,
send messages i can’t read but
repeat in my sleep, tapping letters
on couch pillows between the names
of people i won’t see for ten years.
some won’t come back.
like thick texas summers, copper,
car keys warm from holding on too long.
no matter how many times i drive by,
there’s no excuse to go inside.
the coats are in suitcases, waiting for september,
and i spend hours next to them on the floor,
measuring the size of my bubblegum bubbles
until my tongue tastes like nothing, less than water.
i want to drive straight through the suburbs
and out the other side, but it’s too late and
the highway is littered with eyelids, droopy taillights.
it’s light enough to sleep outside the suburbs
where i’ve bartered with the city for stars
and pretend it’s always looked like this.
i pretend four years and all their faces
are somewhere up there.
like sitting in my driveway, no headlights,
a song i’ve heard for four years with notes
i still can’t hit. i let other voices sing most of the time.
most people are ghosts,
and i saw it coming but missed it happening.
so many universes will never touch mine,
and they’ve stopped existing for me.
they are already just memory
tucked in the corners of hymns
we sang in january, sweaty under our coats,
bare ankles blue. i can’t pick out the faces.
i can’t pick out the words
no matter how many times i remember.
like gasoline, lemon tea,
the burning skin of palms
scorched on june sidewalks.