I want to call you, but I won’t.
Maybe I’m scared I’ll get a busy tone,
scared you’ll ignore after the first ring, scared
that when you answer your voice won’t sound the same
or maybe you’ll hang up, or let your breath fill the silence
for me to speak first, to ask if you’re still there
and where you’ve been.
I want to see you, but I won’t.
I know only miles separate us,
only phone lines
and cellphone data
Maybe it’s getting into the car
that terrifies me—the first step, a promise.
Me making decisions for you, for us, again.
Maybe it’s wondering whether I’ll still know
those roads the way I used to,
like the lines of my palm,
soft and familiar.
Maybe I’m scared your face
will be different or I won’t recognize
the sound of your laugh.
Maybe I’m scared we’ll just look at each other,
memorizing, remembering, saying
how to be.
I want to kiss you, but I won’t.
Because I want to remember how those lips tasted—
like Sunday mornings and maple syrup,
like softness and winter and
I want to reach out and touch you, but I won’t.
And maybe it’s because your body isn’t mine
the skin and the freckles and the birthmarks
and the bruises and the muscles and places you’ve been
are no longer mine to claim,
so I’ll savor you like a statue in a museum
and take in your eyes
with a space etched between us—
I want to tell you I love you, but I won’t.
I’ll bite the words back
ask how you are
comment on how long it’s been,
like we’re strangers
in a grocery store, reaching for the same fruit,
awkwardly trying to pretend we didn’t once love
one another with everything we had.
I’ll talk about my new apartment.
We’ll laugh about the old sweatshirt I still have
and I won’t tell you I wore it to bed last night.
I’ll want to say how much I’ve missed
every little piece of you,
how sometimes I fall asleep to our memories.
But I’ll swallow my words,
get lost in my mind,
tell you your hair looks nice
and wish you well.
Then I’ll leave,
and write you a poem. See—
I want to forget you,
but I won’t.