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by Riley O’Connell ’15

 

We were 13 then,
all eyelashes and Jello hearts,
shifting and splitting open
at the slightest tremor around us,
but you were solid ground,
the extra nail holding together the floorboards.

Tenderly 14,
shifty and hormonal,
that’s what we were
when you told me he was trouble.
You were probably right,
but I saw in him only
gold-gilded leaves
atop a strong trunk.
I did not notice his ruptured roots
until he had torn me
from the ground.
You could’ve said “I told you so,”
but you didn’t.

“My brother will never walk me down the aisle.”
“I will.”
We were only 15, but I couldn’t decide
if I wanted you to see my marriage
or be my marriage.

Salty 16,
always fighting,
always making up,
never the same for long.
The only consistency was
your name on my lips,
wet with sugar tears.
You drank up the attention like vodka,
but I knew which one you preferred.

17 times I cried that night,
and 17 times you whispered my name.
17 minutes and
17 I’m sorry’s later,
I told you.
17 times I told you,
and watched
17 years pass before your eyes.
I was 17 and in love.
You were 17 and indifferent.

We have the rest of our lives
to forget this,
to forget us,
to forget what it felt like to be
young and alive.
But right now we’re 17,
and I can’t forget you yet.

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