the leaving

I.

Part of me expected you’d try to stop me from leaving,
that morning I held my breath and walked lightly on my toes
out your back door at 3AM.
I think part of me wished for it, too,
that you still wanted me with you.
My chest was full of water, pushing open the battered storm door.
Every part of me ached,
knowing it was time for the leaving.
Before that, I could feel the end creeping in
as autumn slowly encroaches summer,
altering the vibrant greens of spring and summer into muted tones of fire.
The reds and yellows and orange of a dormancy we slowly traveled into.

Do you think it began when you asked me to stop listening to sad songs,
because I had you,
but I couldn’t let them go?
Maybe it was that sailor’s morning
I explained to you what the rhyme meant?
Or, maybe it started when we realized
I’m in love with nausea and melancholia?
Maybe
it was because you told me you had your own problems.

II.

I never imagined that one day you’d be gone,
as we danced in long sleeves together
under the midsummer sun.
You hung yourself that fall in your bedroom closet.

III.

“I’m sorry, but I have to give up everything I know
to keep her.
I’ve gotta leave everything behind.
I pushed it off, and off, because I don’t want to do this to you.
I wish I could keep you, but—
Thank you for helping me get this far,
for helping me think of ways to apologize to her,
for helping me be a better…
Why does this hurt so much? To walk away from you?”

IV.

the pain of my mistakes,
the sting of isolation,
the meaning of darkness;
you took everything away from me,
then gave it all back three years later
when you slapped my face so hard I couldn’t see the next morning.

V.

It took four hours of sitting in the grass, still in the darkness
as the early summer dew began to creep in around us,
for you to call me a child before you drove off into the early morning.

At the time I was, wasn’t I?

VI.

It was so bitter
on magnesium, on nortriptyline;
knife against bone,
holding the pain in like 17 swallowed razor blades,
or 2 gallons of bleach,
or two fistfuls of laundry pods,
or a spool of fishing twine and an open window in a little girl’s room.

I never armed my heart in the past for the mistakes of the future.
But what couldn’t be,
wouldn’t be.

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