Theme XI: Modern Love, “Lovely Memories, Old and New”

By Grace Halio

(old)
i kept that mint green post-it that you wrote to me in my wallet for years.
we were on the long island rail road,
on a packed train back home in the winter,
after the dry wind froze us in midtown
after we had missed the earlier train
and knew that both of our parents would be disappointed.
but the thirty minutes we had to wait
meant that we could act like the adults we weren’t
for a little bit longer.
we were so young, we felt so stupidly in love —
everything with you felt new, like a first.

the first post-it that i wrote you was yellow,
a yellow that was warmer than the sun
written on with dark marker.

the one you wrote to me on the train,
i finally put in the back of my desk drawer last year.

you sketched the empire state building on one side,
the train rocked back and forth, and your handwriting was shaky.
i fell asleep on your shoulder,
the way i did nearly every time we spent an evening together in manhattan
same kind of button downs
that dark green coat you had
too many details of you that make letting go so hard.

the other side of that post-it was a reminder of how you felt about me in brief
i can’t remember it word for word,
i don’t care to
i kept it folded in half in my wallet with a two dollar bill for good luck,
a two dollar bill that wasn’t lucky enough for us

there are so many memories of you that i’m afraid of forgetting.
i am trying to accept that you don’t have a place in my life anymore
the way i tried to accept when you told me
“you’ll always have a place in my life, i just don’t know where you fit in right now.”
it is so much easier to put away
a faded and creased piece of paper
than it is you

*****

(new)
i remember how our eyelids were heavy with sleep
3, 4, the hours ticked by like seconds
the way kids count down during hide and seek.

i don’t know if that night was particularly important to me
but it is rather so full images, thoughts, and words.
we skipped through our music libraries and you wrote down the words i said.

i remember how simple it was to kiss you
and lean over without real reason or warning,
knowing that we’d end up
with our noses touching,
smiling stupidly.

i don’t know if i can miss something that i didn’t really have.
when i see those small memories in my head,
i feel more like someone looking at a collection
of pictures or clips of film in a poorly lit room,
but everything is bright,
the color of your sheets,
your eyes.
it is all so clear but i can’t place myself there

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