Root Beer Float

I wrote you
a letter,
and I think it’s
long past
time
that I write
a different letter
that I can
actually
send.

So here it is:
your letter
letting
you
go.

Once,
I was in
a gas station
and my mom
and I
were having
Root Beer Floats
when,
just outside,
there was
a car crash.

It was so near where I
grew up—
where I
went to
school—
that it remained
a part of my life
for longer
afterward
than usual.

Stories about
the firemen
cutting the
tangled
seat belt
and
how young
the boy
had been.

D.O.A.

They used it as
an early warning
for us:
middle school
students;
children,
really.

They hadn’t heard
the screeching tires
like I had.

Or looked up so fast
from their
Root Beer Float
that
they’d pulled muscles
in their
necks.

They thought his life
was good
for a warning,
but
they hadn’t seen smoke
and plastic,
smelled burnt rubber,
heard
shearing metal,
or seen
the red
mist.

I lost
my innocence
at the A&W
just in front of
the fire station
and at the
site
of an auto
collision.

Things hurt
me;
always have.

It’s not fair,
but
being with you
was the only time
for me
when
nothing
hurt;

That’s not
your
fault.

I know
that the answer
can’t be
to hurt you
by trying to hang on
to you
after you’ve
let go
in order
to save
myself
some
hurt.

I
love you,
and I’m
sorry
that
the spark
didn’t catch.

I don’t think
I should be telling
you
all of this,
maybe I should just
smile
kind of sadly
as I always have
and say:

Someday,
life will be
less of a
heart-breaking
mystery
to me,
and I hope
one day
to hear from you
again,
and I hope
your
children
never leave
behind
a half-finished
Root Beer Float.

The Unsent Letter

I wrote you a letter
and in it
I said
the noble things.

I said that I had
always
loved you
and that
I always
would.

I said that I
forgave you
and that
I was still
learning
what that
meant.

I said that
I understood
what you meant
and that
I wished you well.

I said
I would only
ever
think of you
fondly
and that
J.S. Bach’s
Sarabandes
would forever
make me
smile.

I said
you would be
okay
without me.

I said
I would let you
walk away
and that I
would
walk away
too
since that
was what
you wanted.

I said
I would not
look
b
a
c
k.

I walked until
you could no longer
hear
my footsteps
and then
I turned around.

But, for every
__t
_r
__u
___d
__g
___i
__n
___g
footstep
I had
taken,
you had
lightly
taken
three,

and you were
so far
g
o
n
e
that I
did not
have the
chance
to say:

I wrote you two letters,
and this
is the
second
one;

I will never
be
what I could have been
with you,
and far from
blaming you
for that,
I simply
hate
myself.

I do not
understand
what you meant.

I cannot
say
“Goodbye”
without also
saying
“but why?”

And,
as for Bach,
the
sarabande
from Cello Suite No. 2
will always
sound like
what could have been;
what should have been.

Black cat, green eyes;

Black cat, green eyes;

Steady like a streetlamp.

Curled in my direction.

Cypress trees

And Lillies.

Cats are so quiet
you can hear
your breaths
evaporate.

Black eyes, green world;

Stardust footsteps and
grass bending.

Flickering streetlight;

Steady rain.

Irises
and Lotus flowers.

One day
there will be no more
walls
drenched in
beige.

Black world, green dies.