1. You were the first best friend I ever had.
In seventh grade band, sitting
next to each other with our clarinets, the backs of our legs
sticky with sweat from the August sun
I suddenly felt the cool breeze of finally
having someone to talk to.
All my friends until then were either
little girls with hurtful words that hid under promises
of friendship and acceptance, or my neighbors who
only came out on hazy summer nights to play tag in the
shadows of the porch lights.
I never felt alone those nights,
but I would wake the next morning wondering
what was so wrong with me that no one wanted to
see it in the daylight.
Loner had always been my middle name
but you were the first one
who made it feel like a nametag I could peel off.
2. You were one of the most complicated people I have ever met.
This is what made you interesting:
I loved when you gave me mish-mashed, mixed-tape CDs with
track lists scrawled in your unreadable cursive promising Billy Idol
dance anthems, fast paced, pulsing rock and
the swelling of movie soundtracks.
You wrote poetry in a battered journal that was
duct taped to hide the baby-pink, faux reptile-scale skin cover.
Or was that me? It didn’t matter because
you wrote poetry and admitted it.
When California repealed gay marriage
we decided we would elope to Canada
because no one could stop two scrawny teenaged girls
and even though we weren’t lovers, weren’t together –
Soon you sought out art and read Beowulf and The Scarlet Letter
willingly, and you stopped writing poetry but still listened to music,
and maybe I should have seen that as a sign.
3. Your anger made me uncomfortable.
I was raised in a brick burnt house;
the doors and windows caved to protect their glass frames,
the floors quaked and shivered when my father came home,
the locks not strong enough to keep him out.
You were raised in a silent home with silent parents,
so you became your own spark, at risk of
bursting into flame and igniting
anything that touched you –
I was afraid of touching you.
I never learned to control fire,
just how to smother it to keep from getting burned,
but you warned all I was seeing was the smoke.
4. I stopped loving myself when I was with you.
You called the other girls sluts so casually I wondered
if you even realized that was the word falling past your teeth.
You knew you were the right kind of girl on the right side of prude
and you wore your virginity like a badge.
I didn’t tell you when I lost mine.
He wasn’t even my boyfriend –
I never needed a boyfriend because I had you.
I became a knotted tree branch girl, twisted and shaking,
and this was the first time I realized:
I was angry too.
5. There was no goodbye.
I still wonder why I first stopped
answering your messages,
why I lost your number.
Perhaps my stony silence was no match for your brimstone, or
perhaps we should have been lovers.
Then we could have had a final battle
and known where we stood in the rubble.
Then I would know
who to blame
for holding nothing in my hands.
Leesa McDill is currently going to school in Salt Lake where she is majoring in English. Once she graduates, she’s going to become a recluse in the mountains and live off honey, spring water, and wood smoke.