I hadn’t thought of you in a while, and
right when I saw the lanky brunette
swivel sideways in her plastic seat
to let someone out, I thought of you,
your skin and hair and bones,
so taut and shiny. You were the
epitome of “girl” in my world and if
I had a crush on you —
we all did —
it was because I couldn’t take you apart.
I couldn’t see your separate parts.
You were effortless
and your cigarettes always lit the first time,
and I hated your perfect breasts
framed by your crisp denim jacket.
After we fought,
and after you left because we fought,
you became the woman on the train,
older and harder and still unwilling
to get up for anyone, to move or
to be moved. She swiveled and I saw
the back of your jacket, smelling of
Tide and smoke and grain alcohol, of
pride. Of what I thought you would give me.
Of what I thought I had earned.
— Halsted M. Bernard