the only tangible memory we have left
of the first subway tunnels
in the United States
is now sold as scrap.
once passed between countless hands–
indirect intimacy now
faded to obscurity,
free to imbue new meaning.
that necklace you wear
contains metal from a subway token
your husband thumbed in the train station
23 years ago,
it knew his touch
before you did.
what else risks extinction
in favor of fast, efficient, easy? what
other mundanity can bind like this?
tu me manques
in French, they don’t say
“I miss you,” they say
“you are absent from me.” and oh,
I feel it.
this persistent ache
follows me everywhere now,
sleeps in bed with me,
and even though I can’t remember
your face that well anymore,
I still feel the ghost-touch of your fingers
when you grabbed
my sleeve that one time,
held onto me and smiled,
and it melted me
more than anything else
you could have done.
but the transience of memory can’t sustain me,
I am all want want want
and no relief, spilling over
out of my hands,
‘til I’m up to my waist in it
and then it’s gone, and you’re gone.
tu me manques, bébé.
you shot me through the chest, dear hunter,
cracked my ribs and choked out my last breath in the indigo dark.
but you missed this heart.
this tiny, convulsing thing, this tough motherfucker,
smaller than your fist, twice as hardy.
I am making meals with another man,
and he invites me to his table, too. he does not feed me lies,
and he is patient while I rinse my heart clean.
when I say let it go, he does.
and next time, when you come knocking, I will turn you away.
this time I will get to be the savior.
Beloved best friend,
Remember a year ago?
Remember my cooing at stray cats,
car door open, in my bare feet,
waiting just for you?
For you to return from your foray
into the leaves
of your aunt’s peach tree?
That was my first peach, at nineteen.
It felt like holding my own heart
in my hands.
for that sweetness,
for the way my heart yields
at your touch.
with the secrecy of foxes
I held in my heart a love for you.
how I wish we could have shared childhood
there, in that wood of my home.
our echoed laughter rang out
through the trees
just the same.
how heavy my heart is–
for you left dried husks
of flowers stuck between all of my ribs.
I no longer know what to do but
pluck them out slowly,
one by one, prolonging the hurt but
better than all at once.
I do not find solace
in how soft you felt, how warm
when you held me to you that night,
moon drunk and howling.
all that time, you knew.
those sweet things like snake bites.
still hunted by memories of you,
cries for no other.
those foxes made scarlet
with the filthy blood of want.
Rebecca Ciolino is from New Hampshire and is currently majoring in English Writing at Plymouth State University. Some of her previous work has been published in PSU’s literary magazine, Centripetal.