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Sophie Herzing Jan 2016
For me, you are Sunday. Today is Sunday,
and tomorrow will be Sunday. Because I am stuck
in gingham yellow sheets, small white saucers
with matching ceramic cups, cigarette ashes
like a crop circle around them as I sip homemade
coffee. The ***** brown liquid sloshing
in the back of my throat, scorching my insides
as I swallow something not nearly as
painful as looking up for an answer to the crossword
and realizing you are not in fact actually there, and your hand
is not on my thigh, tracing the outline of my knee
with your thumb. I am stuck

like a kid on the monkey bars. Deciphering
between reaching my hand out to grab
the next rung or just allowing myself
to fall into the wood chips, welcome
that scraped skin and soil in the worry lines
of my palms. Because calling you,
reaching out to that line, could end with me
face up on my bed staring at the blades of my fan
trying to pinpoint just one to follow around and around
again. Or I could get your voicemail. Or you could
see my number and decide to hang up. How close
were we really anyway?

Or you could answer and we could talk through
how bad the weather is, how we've been doing,
and then get to the poignant silence, that hum
in the background that coils through the wires
into my ear, down the canal, and sinks into my heart
until the pressure becomes too much. Until
I tell you that its Sunday. That I need the 1994
Tony Award winning musical for 3 across, and hopefully,
you'll give me the right answer.
Sophie Herzing Jan 2016
We used to sit in your parent's basement
with your two dogs on their little beds
in the corner by the old desktop computer,
wooden hand-me-down grandmother cabinetry,
lace doilies underneath all the candles
on the coffee table. I made you turn out the lights.
We would sit there and pretend
that we could find something better to do
than kiss between commercials
or talk about all the things we used
to dream about in high school, how I
got mine and how yours were like
the back bumper of a car that got left
out in the rain too long-- a little rusty.

Your kissing was a little rusty,
but I let it go because you didn't make fun
of me ordering a double grilled cheese
on our first date. You also didn't judge
when I got drips on my dress
from my ice cream cone. I can still
remember the way you'd yell at me
for stopping too far out at intersections,
laughing how I was gonna get us killed
one day, but I think
you just really loved to hear me sing
over you. I think you really loved

me, and here I was playing teeter
totter on curbs in little jean shorts
with a guy who gave me a slice
of leftover pizza. Here I was, burning
down your own ambitions because
they didn't seem as glittery as my own,
because you didn't quite match all the sketches,
all the plans I had on my map. Because
if we were to draw straws I always thought
you would come up a little short.
I think you really loved me and I left you
like a penny in between that couch
we used to sit on.
Sophie Herzing Jan 2016
You asked if I was going to stay, I nodded,
but I'm just waiting here until your coffee cools,
until your feet go numb from sitting on them
so you have to switch positions, until the letters
magnetized to your fridge stop twisting themselves
into "sorry." Until I feel better about not calling you later.

Last night you asked if I liked Bon Iver,
I nodded, but I only did that in hopes that I could see
what the rest of your bra looked like, because
the strap was barely falling off your shoulder,
and I know you tried to tuck it neatly
under the straps of your dress, but darling,
I want to love you like a disaster. I want to tear
into your skin like your bones are a present,
it's Christmas morning, and I'm that little kid
sitting on the stairs, peaking. I want to line up
my heart with yours like they are those fridge magnets
with the thinest of barriers between them, your chest
a tiny cage that I have the key to, hidden
underneath my tongue. I want to rock you to that song
your telling me is your favorite that I promise
I'm not going to remember the name of. I want your sheets
curled between your toes as you breathe into my neck,
into my mouth, into my brain. I want to use your ribs
like a guitar, stroke them in a rhythm only I know,
only the two of us can hear the sound.
I want to come this close to falling
for you before I have to break free.

You asked if I really had to go, I nodded,
but in my mind I'm leaving you clues:
footprints on your carpet, my belt on the dresser,
my smile as I watched you through
the crack of light between the bathroom door
try to put your hair up ten different times
before you came to bed, just so you can find
my heart between the pillow cases
as I pull my car out of the driveway.
Sophie Herzing Jan 2016
We ate chicken sandwiches, mine
no bun, at a table with an 80's
geometric design on top of two silver
metal legs with our legs
intertwined. I tried
to draw a comic on the wrapper,
but you kept making me laugh
by reenacting the conversation
we had with the lady at the register
who gave us the wrong change,
but using a baby's voice instead.
The boy mopping the floors wished
desperately that we would leave, but
you looked so cute with ketchup
on your lip and I really, really
didn't want you to drop me off.
There was an Adele song
on the radio that we've heard for the second
time, but you sound more like
a forgotten track to a John Hughes film--
a little heavy, a little messed up, a whammy
bar progression with blonde hair
who wore jeans and had a really cool car.
I'd like to kiss you like Molly Ringwald
does Judd Nelson in that movie
we talked the whole way through as it played
on Netflix. I'd like to wear you
like a bad haircut; something no one else
understands but I pull off effortlessly.
You feel effortless to me. So refill
my take-out cup with five different sodas,
make a scene as we leave the restaurant,
my hand laced up in yours, and let me drink
you in as I pretend we aren't driving
back home just yet.
Sophie Herzing Jan 2016
I must have been at least eight years old
when I started playing doctor in my garage,
using long gardening tools as skeletons
and drawing scattered veins with colored
pencils on sketches of the human brain.
I used to set up little name tags on the floorboards.
My parents had a plastic bin full of sticks
to help the plants grow straight that I used
as pointers, attacking each ventricle
of this made up heart with detail. I'd examine
my imaginary person and tell the entire
classroom just how to fix them up right.

Now, I'm twenty one and I must have tried
to fix you up at least ten different times.
I molded you with my hands like soil,
nurturing you with soft kisses and coffee
in the mornings. I'd even try to pull your nightmares
out from the roots, tie up the frayed ends,
and throw them into the compost. I used
my own spine like those pointers to help you
grow up straight, grow up different than all
the memories you'd blurt out like bubbles
when trying to breathe underwater. Memories
like falling asleep accidentally on the bus
just to be awoken by the driver back at the station,
the way that pity candy bar must have tasted
as you waited in a nasty plastic seat
for your mom who wasn't even worrying.
I tried to dissect you from the outside in.
Read your body like it was directions, but
I'm still just a kid in a too big overalls
playing doctor out in my garage.

You are bigger than the pretend desks
with the broken pencils inside. You are more
fragile than the yarn that I would loop
around my neck like a fake teacher's badge.
You have way too many pieces for me to count
on a skeleton, but if you let me I will try
to memorize them all, label them
with sidewalk chalk, put them together
again with Elmer's glue. If you let me,
I will let you slip on my nostalgia
like a patient's gown, let you relive
a tiny moment of the childhood that was stolen
even if it's just for a little while, even
if it's just pretend.
Sophie Herzing Dec 2015
It was May, but we drove out to the shore
anyway in my big sweater and purple
cotton scarf wrapped around my neck,
holding it up to my chin as we waited
for the heat to start up in the car. My breath
looked like a cloud when I laughed, my lips
two inches from yours as I pulled
you by the strings of your black sweatshirt.
I grabbed two bags of sour patch kids, trying
to throw them sideways into your mouth
as you drove, a scattered trail of neon green
and yellow left on the foot mat under
the wheel, two our three
stuck between the crease in your seat.
I know it wasn't sunny, but I swear it tried
to peak through the overcast, or maybe the gray
sheen of it off the pavement is what made
your face shine. Your black hair looked so cool
on your pale skin, yelling at me to get
my ***** red sneakers off the dashboard. I tried
to write a little poem on your hand
with my fingers as it traced your bones
like a maze while you let it rest on the console.
We played that CD from that band I didn't know
you loved, and I promise I ******* up all the words,
but I just like to hear your try to sing over me.

I made you swear not to splash me
when we tried to let the ocean kiss
our toes, a salty welcome to the love affair
I had with the way you made me bite
my lip when I almost smiled too much
at the way your eyes moved when you talked
about one of your favorite things or about
how big the ocean was and how small
you were, even if you never said it just
like that. I could tell what you meant.
You did it anyway. The water was so cold
on my cheeks, my ribs clashing into one
another like a song my head hadn't had
the time to learn yet. You held them
in place while holding me. You kissed
the summer from my lips and asked
the sun to come out just for a moment
while I made tiny castles out of pink shells
and faded driftwood pieces leftover
from the winter. We ran out of iced tea
so we drank each other in, in layers,
on the sand with our jeans rolled
up to our ankles, letting the mask
of almost blue skies envelope us
in a Saturday afternoon spent
figuring out little things like old
memories or each other's favorite movies.
Sophie Herzing Dec 2015
If you were to come to me in the form
of a paper person linked by the knuckles
of other paper people, I would decorate
you with thick markers and call you
my soldier. I'd crown you in yellow smudges,
give you a sword out yarn and some cheap

You came to me in the form of a leftover
sports player with knees that needed therapy
and a size too big gym shorts. I fell for the sound
of you hitting your head off the microwave
when we were trying to kiss in my kitchen,
the way your hair felt in the spaces between
my fingers, how you always took the left
sock off before the right. I made you
into the paper figure next to mine, the half
who's creases matched up perfectly,
who we wanted the same exact things
as I. If you were to come to me now
in the form of water I'd boil you to make tea.
I'd put three sugars into you when you beg
me for none. I'd make you into some tragedy
that I'd hide underneath my bed in the way
of nasty journal entries and tired poems.
I'd love you like a miracle, like a prayer,
when really you are just a guy
who loves funny movies and can't
wake up for breakfast on time.
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