Protected: letters to my former selves

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Fear

We dug our graves with our bare hands,
carved our tombstones with lines of our
favorite poems. We chiselled nostalgia
into stone, made warm homes out of
our inevitable demises.

We the ones in love with the melancholy
of verse. We the ones infatuated with
guilt; we fed off the bittersweetness
of forbidden longing and called ourselves
and each other lovers.

But sometimes
I think
we were never lovers.

Sometimes I think we never possessed
one another.

Sometimes I think I grabbed and pulled
at that gravel with what I could never
tell was only the ghost of you.

There are chapters in our book even I’m
not sure are true.

There are verses I don’t know if you
wrote or if I wrote them to you.

There are poems with so much life that
I can’t help but wonder how either of
us managed to pen them when we were
always dying of hunger.

There are lifetimes before you that I
can’t even remember.

I want to know if you remember.

I want to know if you recall exactly
how you felt that night I buried my
I love yous in the back of your neck,
how I tripped on the syllables until my
tongue tied the words in knots that slept
on my palate until they fell asleep
under your skin.

It took courage to speak them out loud
and I could never find bravery anywhere
within me.

My weaknesses ended me.

I want to know if you remember the way
I clenched my fists that night in November
when I finally breathed that sigh of closure.

I don’t know if you knew it was over.

I don’t know which one of us picked up
that shovel and filled up those graves
to bring redemption a little bit
closer.

There’s so much I still don’t know.

There’s still so much inside me that I’ll
never get to show you.

There are so many poems underneath my
ribs I’ll have to hold inside as secrets.

I’ve made my peace with this.

But I want to know that when you teach
your children of the beauty of love
one day, you’ll think of me and all
of the things that we wanted to but
couldn’t be.

I want to know that even then when the
memory of me is lying deep within the
debris of your youth, you’ll still think
of me when you speak of intimacy.

But still some nights I’m kept awake with
the fear that you might have never been as
near as I thought you were.

Or that you might have been just a ghost.

An illusion at most.