PRETENDING THAT I DON’T

I think I love you

in a different language now—

through gritted teeth at the mindless mention

of your name in conversation, a clenched fist

perspiring against the loose seams of my pocket, 

a sealed and stamped envelope I almost dropped

into the post office mailbox this morning yet 

ultimately decided to save for another day

because why, what’s the point anymore

if you never check your mail or even check on me,

or if you already know my letter will begin with sorry

or remember when we used to or I just wish I’d been better, 

the contents of my heart translated into cursive bullshit. 

So I slipped the letter back into the crease of my coat

and let it burn a hole there, like I’d been shot in the side. 

Then I wandered around town, stopping at our landmarks, 

pretending it didn’t throb and that I wasn’t spilling out. 

It’s funny, though, the things I do to keep you alive.

Like how I still sprinkle cinnamon into black coffee

the way you did for me when I’d rage at you, or how I still

take the scenic route when I drive home, even if no one sits 

in my passenger seat pointing at the cows grazing on hills 

while cranking 80s rock like we’re the main characters 

in a trashy romantic comedy that flopped in the theaters,

or how I still write you into my poems even when I run 

out of words capable of saying what I’ve been needing to.

I still love you in past tense, in isolation, in pretending 

that I don’t. But it’s alright, and I’m gonna be fine, 

because at least I can still hold you close 

in the stories that I tell.

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