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Keegan Nov 2014
Her hands shake and she wrings them nervously when you invite her to get "frozen yogurt, or something" and she says yes like she means it but not in a way you're used to, fortunately or unfortunately she is as nervous as you are

When you ask her what her plans are after high school she stutters like a stuck record, she has something to say but she can't yet, maybe she can't decide what to tell you, you think she might be embarrassed because she's going to beauty school or something or maybe she doesn't have a plan at all, she's worried you'll figure her out before she gets the chance to tell you

One night in October you're up in your room with her, you at the desk, looking out the window screen to the darkening street, her on the bed with her head hanging off the side, she says she wishes her room were small like yours, and because her brain terrifies you and you love it you ask why, and she says she feels like big open spaces will swallow her whole and you'll remember that moment, when you realized how small you were, when you realized that she was even smaller

On thanksgiving you give every relative a different answer to the age-old, so-do-you-have-a-boyfriend question, the short answer is no but the long answer is that you've been trying to tell people how you really feel for years and you've finally found one person who heard you, but you just smile and ask how their grandchildren are doing

You stand in her front yard and stare up at her bedroom window and you're confused until you feel her hair on your shoulder, you turn to look at her and she's looking up at her bedroom like you were, wondering when she'll come out to see you both

On Christmas right when you finish unwrapping the last gift she calls you, and she's crying, and she wants to know directions to the hospital and she's sorry for bothering you, it's Christmas, after all, and you bruise your leg jumping into your car and you speed off to her house wondering what most people think a miracle is

On Valentine's Day you get to visit her and you bring a card and a stuffed bear and a box of chocolate and they say you're not allowed to bring food in so you leave it in the waiting room and they take you back and her hair is still thin, you wonder why you never noticed that before, but maybe it's because everything seems worse in a hospital, you tell yourself it can't be that bad, and she holds your hand across the cafeteria table for the next 50 minutes and she even eats sugar free jello, while there are other people around, and you probably look ridiculous, getting so excited over that, but you don't care, because she thanks you for the presents and looks right into your eyes when she says she loves them, and that's really all you need to know

You find yourself subconsciously preventing dangerous situations, like locking medicine cabinets and putting your mother's craft knife in the very back of her office because she's coming home next week and you realize you care about this more than college and your volleyball scholarship, and you have hope

A week before you graduate and you're so weighed down with homework you can't see straight, she invites you to get frozen yogurt, or something, she gives you a bracelet she saw at the street fair that made her think of you and she offers to pay for your three-scoop sundae only if she can have some, and you're too busy staring at her that you can't argue with her, you're staring like your eyes remembered how to work everything looks right, and her cheeks are rosy and her smile is warm and her shoulders shake when she laughs and her hair bounces with the movement, her eyes meet yours more often, you lose count of how many times she sighs contentedly without noticing, she says she's taking summer classes and she's going to catch up in time for the fall semester, and you end up laying on the old swingset in your backyard with her all night, you look up at the stars together and she tells you how the universe is so impossibly huge, and it feels like that's the first time you've ever heard anyone say that, and she says she always had been quite keen on the idea of being among the stars but they're too far away from you and therefore not worth it

You've both run out of words and tears and reassurances and you find out you don't need any, she tells you she's happy now and that's all that was left to say
this isn't even a poem ignore this
Keegan Oct 2014
“i haven’t seen her in years,”
said the hospital bed,
“though i’ve seen many others,
who sobbed violently like her,
who sunk into me like a young, rusting anchor.
who could not get comfortable in one position or
one mindset or
one truth.
i have felt them dig in their heels
and try to ache and and fight and
scream, just quietly enough not to wake their roommate.”

“i remember their shapes,”
said the hospital bed,
“how their voices rose slowly like a far-off ambulance siren,
how their faces fell when they remembered the emergency
was right here.
i have been kicked, punched,
clung to, held on to,
as if gravity switched suddenly and they feared
yet another aspect of the universe was against them.
i’ve seen ***** sheets and i’ve seen clean ones. i’ve
seen boys with tattoos on their faces and
razor marks on their arms. i’ve seen pain.
i’ve seen girls who wouldn’t turn off the lights,
girls who couldn’t turn off the lights,
girls who had turned a light off once and never wanted
to do anything else. i’ve seen pain.

i’ve felt love before
more often than the lovers thought they loved,
more strongly than the fighters thought
they could fight.
in shaky hands folding down blankets
more carefully than they have all week
in heads that flop ungracefully onto
pillows, securely,
in the slow turn of a hospital bracelet
around a pale wrist,
in large, golden brown hands,
inspected through tear-blurred eyes,
through scratched glasses,
picked up off the floor after discovering
force won’t carry a ring of thin plastic
as far as you thought.

i hear change in whispers,
good night, good luck,
in hushed acceptance, in ‘yes,
i really am here’. in
screams that send nurses in panic only to find
you were laughing. in numbers,
in ‘five hundred milligrams,’
in ‘three gained pounds’, in
‘one more day’.

i hear shock, i hear fear,
in echoes of parents’ voices,
‘why here? why now?’
i have heard and seen and felt all of them.

but she,”
continued the hospital bed,
“hasn’t been in here in a while.
i haven’t heard her whisper
to her roommate about what she did
‘that night’, i haven’t seen her
sneak away from her pile of pajamas
as if she didn’t just hide something there,
i haven’t heard her empathize
with a pencil sharpener.

it’s been so long,
it’s hard to imagine,”
said the hospital bed,
‘i hardly remember  her'.
if only the hospital bed knew
that she could hardly remember
herself from then either,
if only it knew she hadn't stopped
fighting once she left
if only it knew
how she felt when they said
she only needed to go to therapy
every other week.
it felt like progress,
and it felt like hope,
and no one better than
a hospital bed
could understand that.
no this is not a true story what haha um
Keegan Jun 2014
if a sound could be grainy
like a photo with the ISO too high
over-compensating for the light that shone too dim
through the patterned curtains in your bedroom
in your mother’s old house
where the peaches tasted better in water than in sugar and that had never
ever happened
not since you were three years old when your grandmother
who was not yet too old to do much besides eat TV dinners
and watch ‘the price is right’
before your grandfather’s funeral
where you ruined your velvet dress
spilling cheap coffee all over the bodice
(if it had been good coffee the situation would be
entirely different)
the sound of you
exhaling like a train rolling right past the house
shaking the walls and the floor and the sofa
less and less as it gets farther away
you sound
like a photocopy
and i can’t find
the original
i lost track

— The End —