Winning poet’s winning poem – Dear Sara

grandmother says that we were

born with war in our mouths

dear sara,

war is not a sweet disposition

i miss you

not how mom misses dad when stepdad holds her

or how you keep midnight hanging on your tongue

long enough to remember the words to that song

 

i won’t let you go

i miss you like the time mom missed her death

the time she finally called the police on stepdad

and didn’t wear a front of bravery

did not rebel against herself

against us

 

i miss you like i missed the train over my body

the day i packed up all of my things

and headed to the tracks

when i didn’t jump

 

i miss you like i almost fell

i almost broke my neck

i broke my heart but hearts can be fixed

i almost lost my soul

 

dear sara

i always thought of love as a suicide

with you

it was a homicide

 

now i have all this fight left in me

but you’re not here to break into

or to break out of

you can’t leave the battle unattended

 

do you remember when we used to walk to the climax of night?

when we disarmed the heavens

disthorned the moon

made out the silhouette of god with our fingers?

that darkness was not the night

the shadow wasn’t god

 

dear sara,

i think i ate the shadows

i wanted to see you

i couldn’t keep my lamp on

and keep you on at the same time

so i ate the dark to clear up the air

 

i cannot live without you

is not the same thing as i love you

dear sara

i cannot live without you

 

there is nostalgia here

and nothing to be nostalgic about

the pretty, colourful things

that make memory lane a street to note

are missing here

 

tomorrow memory will hunt me down

and find me nowhere new

home was once built of walls and company

now she’s a daunting ghost

reminding me of you

 

i think i am a tomb

i think you can still be found here

this is awful

but thorns make nests too

 

dearsara,

i have since become a sanctuary

and your name is a bad word

to leave a good place

 

please don’t write me back

i don’t want to ask you back by accident

forgive me if in the past i have made

more space for you than you required

 

if you could taste the destitute

in company

and the ash

and the pity

 

i am sorry if i didn’t keep it hidden

that i was still lonesome

when you moaned beneath me

that i loved you with a broken heart

 

i am sorry i liked the silence more

i am sorry i preferred you high

and vacant

and breathless

and not mine

and leaving

and always leaving

 

dear sara

i hope you have gotten better

i hope you are no longer made of ice

i hope you no longer inhale snow to stay on

i hope your years are more than just winter

 

i hope you have found a new opium

 

i know i was not your first love

i forgive you for kissing me like i was

and i apologize for being a different drug

than cocaine

i am sorry i didn’t stretch your days

of carry you off your feet so you would forget

 

dear sara,

i am still watching you disappear

it feels like i dodged a bullet

it feels like i have no idea how to breathe

it feels like i was better off dying at your hand

 

you saved me from god

and then you saved me from yourself

but you left me with myself

dear sara, i am not safe here

 

 

 

 

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