by Kit Whitten
i saw you today, for the first time in months. i admit, it took me
a few seconds to remember all the words to the song you played on repeat in
your car, the one you couldn’t sing with open eyes. the music used to come
so easily to me, but when i saw you today, i could only remember
the chorus, and it stuttered its way through my head over and over again.
for the life of me, i don’t know what comes next.
i have spent years picking up the pieces of you that you left behind,
years spent memorizing the echo of your heartbeat and the rhythm of
your breaths. your favorite color is purple. you like sunflowers, autumn,
and the creek that flows behind your house. you like movies and popcorn,
you like ferris wheels and candy apples. you love your mother
and miss your father. you’re afraid of horses and terrified of yourself. there
was a point in my life when i thought maybe i’d be lucky enough
to grow old next to you.
i know it’s stupid, but i’m afraid of not knowing you anymore
because if i’ve learned anything in the last four years, it’s that favorite colors
change. what you want to be one day, you will not want to be the next.
people are hard to pin down.
people are math equations with too many variables and not enough constants. people aren’t scripts, they’re not easy to memorize.
someone keeps going back and changing the words when you think you’ve
got all the lines down. you’ve never got all the lines down—
someone else will always be typing something new.
i miss the way your voice rolled itself over the vowels of my poetry,
miss the way the words i dedicated to you dripped off your tongue. i miss opening my eyes in the morning to that song already playing in my head, my eyes
pressed shut as i sing along to words i don’t understand. i miss knowing
what to get you for your birthday. i miss the person i was years ago when i thought all it took to know a person was a bullet point list of all their favorite things.
people aren’t lists. they’re not photo albums. they’re atoms and molecules
and the insides of stars and something so dangerously beautiful, indiscernibly terrible that the closest we can ever get to understanding each other is figuring out why we sing certain songs like we’re drowning in the middle of the ocean
and we’re just now realizing that maybe we should have learned
to believe in a higher power or at least learned how to keep our heads above the water for long enough to survive on our own time.
today, i saw you again for the first time in four years and seven months.
i realized that the poem i wrote you no longer applies.
if i hadn’t titled it with your name, i would have forgotten who i wrote it about.
people are hard to pen down.