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Kit Mattern Nov 2016
when i walk into the bathroom, with dawn
breaking her fingers to squeeze her hands through the windows
at the end of the hall, i am surprised to see a girl at the corner sink.
i expected to be alone to wipe at my face, to press gentle fingers
against the tender skin of my neck, to pull up my shirt
and check the visibility of my ribs
and the flutter of my heart, to stare at my eyes in the ****** mirror
in the ****** lighting and calculate all the little changes that a boy’s hands
can wreak on a body in under an hour. but she

is there at the corner sink, scrubbing at her red and irritated cheeks
like she is lady macbeth trying to erase the ghost of a touch
that never left a physical mark. i have makeup and sweat sticking
to my skin and knots in my hair desperate fingers left behind
and i’m not sure my shirt is my shirt and i just want
to be alone to examine the damages and count the casualties
of a war whose victor i could not point to,
and really, the only reason i walked into this bathroom was
to figure out how to walk back out again,
but i am not alone. if she

looked up, if she caught my gaze in the bathroom mirror, she could
see my hands shake. my first thought is that she has
no reason to be here, taking off her face
a handful of hours before she’ll put on a new one.
but before i can hate too fiercely, i see my own eyes and wonder
if maybe we made the same mistakes tonight. maybe
she fell in love with her boy too and in doing so turned her body
into a battlefield just to have a fighting chance to stay with him. maybe she

hasn’t realized yet. maybe she will take
her red face and slumped shoulders and shoulder past
me and all my sins and silence and find all the pieces of herself
strewn on the ground, collect them in cold arms and leave the room,
close the door quietly, pause at the end of the hall to see dawn
die for day, and think, “that girl’s hands were shaking,”
and think, “that patch of sky looks exactly like his eyes,”
and think, “oh—oh this was not supposed
to happen. not like this, not ever
like this.”
Kit Mattern Sep 2016
i drive past twenty-seven churches before i realize
that i am looking for someone
to save me. you will not want to know this,
but i think about telling you anyway,

think about calling
you up on the phone and saying, “hey, do you
remember me? i’m the girl who sat in your
passenger seat like it was stitched to fit the curve of her waist.
you loved my broken poetry. you loved the stain
of my teeth against your collarbone.
you looked into my eyes and thought about oceans and blackberries.
you thought about what it would be like to love me,
to carry me over the fire and deliver me from the floods.
but tonight

i am not your cross to bear.
you are miles away and i am still here, rubbing
over old scars that still ache when it rains and writing
poetry in the same stupid stilted stanzas you used to love.
i guess i haven’t gotten the hang of letting go yet.
i was kind of hoping you could give me some pointers.

i know it sounds crazy,
but sometimes when i get too distant, i imagine
all the cities you have been to since the last time we kissed.
i hope they have loved you kinder and more gently than
i ever did. i am sorry about the wreckage and the wine
and the cigarettes and the sins. i just—

i just need you to know that i think about you often,
okay, and nothing has been the same since you left,
but i would never forgive you if you came back. please,
keep your feet towards the horizon. please forget
my name. please do not call back.”

— The End —