Someone else is turning 22 today. I think of you
on top of the monkey bars after we saw that movie in Davis.
I dream you come to visit and I make you a G&T
with light pink syrup. I dream you into a murder mystery
where the mystery is who’s dead and every time I
forget that it’s you for long enough you come back
for a while and I can talk to you. Tonight I’m thinking
of your beautiful cat who died five years ago. Someone says
the stages of grief weren’t ever actually meant to be
about anyone other than yourself. In the winter,
every morning triples the impending length of the day,
and I wonder how you would feel about it. In the spring—
I don’t know yet, actually. In the doorway, someone’s cigarette
threatens to ruin my slice of the birthday cake. I used to hate
how food tastes when someone nearby is smoking. But
I used to make an exception for you, and without you,
I keep making it. Would you find that stupid?
I’m not scared of driving on the highway anymore
but I don’t have any reason to go to Natick anymore.
When I am the last one awake, I think of the walk to your house
from Domino’s the night of my eighteenth birthday.
Everyone else had gone home, but we were always meandering,
and you were an eternal night owl, never rushing me to go.
You told me you had always suspected something wrong…
It turned into summer. Longer days. Never mind.
When you tried to cut bread straight from the freezer, ending up
with stitches, I did all your dishes because I wanted to believe
I could help. The truth was, we were older, and I kept
rushing away. But it was nice enough to eat on the porch,
which did not hold the same version of darkness
as that house did. You came to the bookstore, and listened
to my recommendations. You read my writing and said
kind things. I went back to school and it became September,
and after turning 22, you left immediately. But everyone else
just kept turning 22, one after another. I didn’t want it
to be my turn. But we all just kept having to get older