A Non-Comprehensive List Of The People I Tried To Love When You Weren’t There

Thought Catalog
Thought Catalog

He spoke to me in broken English, I to him in stuttered Spanish, when we spooned
his body was too long next to mine, our bodies, like our languages
never did perfectly align.
When he left, I minded for exactly one afternoon.
When he left, the only discomfort I felt was the never-ending hole of your absence
that I had poured him into.

He lived in an attic and had rescued three stray cats, he was always taking in things that were broken, I am certain it is why I myself
kept ending up in his bed.
When I left he kept calling, for years afterwards we would bump into each other here and there, he’d tell me ‘let’s pick things up where we left off,’
He didn’t know that where we left off was all emptiness and broken-down dreams,
He was only happy
in the years when I was just lost enough
to crawl back to his door.

She bought me whiskey shots, straightened my bookshelf,
took the elastics off my wrist while I slept
and called me honey.
always make me want to be better, they notice the little things
Like when you haven’t straightened up your apartment in a week or when your heart
is too filled-up with somebody else
to ever completely let them in.

He wrote me love poems and I constructed fairytales that both of us knew
we couldn’t live out.
He was the fantasy that keeps you wide-awake
at four am in the dead center of winter,
until it doesn’t.
Until I woke up one morning and he was just another boy
aching for connection and I was just another girl who still didn’t understand how to love anyone
other than you.

He thought you were my boyfriend
I laughed and told him no, no.
I kissed him fiercely, tried to want him harder than I wanted
what he said to be true, tried to let the lust that he ignited be enough
to keep me warm all through the winter, tried to tell myself that he wouldn’t notice
the way I looked at him with wanting and how different it was
from the way I looked at you,
Which was with love
Which was with aching
Which was with the loss of something so goddamned irreplaceable
that nothing would ever take its place.

Over the years, all of these bodies
passing through like maskeshift homes that we both built
inside of loneliness, I loved them
the way you love the places you can’t stay in
the way you love the side roads that you take when you’re en route
to somewhere better, my heart never quite understanding that all roads
would not eventually lead back to you. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Read Heidi Priebe’s new poetry collection, The First New Universe.


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