CLAIRE

Poems are born in the what could have been

if you had taken the A train to the last stop
to say the thing that got stuck in your teeth

when you needed to say it most, I need you,
instead of walking home in the pale gray slush

after kissing her for the last time. Some poems
are never finished. Instead, they lie wide awake

and wonder whether she still uses lavender
shampoo and hyperfixates on climate change

until she cries, hard, over the thought of bringing
babies into a world so catastrophically fucked.

What could have been, what could have been
if only you had taken that train to the richer side

of the city and found the ending to your poem:
I need you. I need the way you care so much you cry,

the way strands of your hair get stuck in my teeth.

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