person standing beside mountain

Your clothes and mine hang in our separate closets.
If you’re me, the gray button-up my mom complimented me on lies on the floor,
Mixed in with with the bottoms you said you liked me in,
So I can think that if you were here,
We’d share the sentiment as a secret, à la hushed nighttime sex.

How many times did you offer me your warmth
for our walks through the woods and into town?
In your socks, in your jacket, in your embrace—
I dressed in your clothes so often that now I feel naked in my own
And fearful of what remains in the wake.

If you’re you, the “ZERO” shirt stays hidden with my photograph,
Preserving both your memories of me and what is left of you.
From here you can either pull us out when you’re in need,
Or choose to create a reliquary from my hair,
The way I have with your key, the one I begged you to let me keep.

The places and things we’ve stained (I’ve stained)
Are a sign of where it is we have been,
But I can feel your resistance towards the echo,
My own pushing me forward, yet pulling me backwards.
The ghost of me still folds your laundry.

It is the loss of our never-born children that I shove in my pocket,
Recognizing their beauty when I look in your face.
Though like a favorite song, I choose not to listen,
Because sometimes bliss is better left alone,
In a place where we won’t be afraid to lose it.

One day I’ll find the strength to take off your sweater
And put it in the donation bin for another girl to enjoy.
But for now I use it as a replacement for your chest
And listen for your heart beat in the wool.

Susanna is a third year English and art history major at UNC Charlotte

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