You know what? I like you.
I confess this to you in English, staring at the back of your dreadfully empty chair. Yes, I write you notes.
Page 1: In art class you told me that watercolor painting was less painting and more making mistakes and being proud of them. You have hairy arms and sometimes you forget to brush your teeth and me too, but I just don’t get how you can still wear short-sleeved shirts and laugh so loud. I think that the real reason I cover my mouth when I’m around you is because I’m afraid my heart is going to slip out the same way I do my bedroom window at three in the morning. You have to be real quiet when mom is a light sleeper, even though living on the second floor hurts.
Page 2: When I first started going to school I’d tell myself it could only get better, but then it got worse. And then I’d tell myself it could only get better, but then it got worse. And that’s when I first started imagining myself jumping from ten story apartment buildings and stepping in front of moving vehicles. I got so good at imagining the impact that falling in love with you wasn’t even a shock to the system.
Page 3: We both hate our fathers and love baseball. We make plans to combine the two and get home early so that mom can get some rest. We are both old in young bodies, and sometimes forget that our skin will not fall off in the shower the same way the blood does. Blood doesn’t wash out of clothes, but you wear a white shirt anyway and that night, we dye my hair red.
Page 4: Every day you’re not here I close my eyes and count to ten. It has been two weeks and nobody is sure where you are but whispers say you started taking the meds you shouldn’t and stopped taking the meds you should. I am still scared of the dark so I when I close my eyes, I imagine I am sitting in trains moving so fast I can’t even see the branches twisting above your head and kissing your pine-needle hair. You are made of circles so I study abstract art and pretend as though you are not colors away playing conductor and stopping trains with your teeth.
Page 5: I brush my teeth until my gums bleed because it reminds me of white shirts, and it’s at this moment I realize mom was never a light sleeper at all – she just stayed up all night cleaning mirrors and waiting for me to get home. I know that the sun lives in your mouth, but yellow is so hard to paint with that I sleep all day just to run away, and at night I stare in the mirror for hours and think of Van Gogh. I wonder if he would be any good at baseball.
(previously published in voicemail poems)
Sara Barač is a walking wildfire trapped in a queer Bosnian-American immigrant’s body. She is a Bosnian born in Croatia, but the U.S. Citizenship Office says those are the same thing. Raised in Boise, Idaho, she now lives in Ecuador. Her work has been published in voicemail poems.