the truth is, your leaving feels a lot like the abrupt ending to a year-long conversation. like buzzing silence and falling apart from too many all-nighters and lights that refuse to turn on no matter how many times I switch the bulbs. I’m sitting in the dark. it’s too quiet here.
the next day, I smile at everyone. I eat breakfast for the first time in years and tell my mother, don’t worry about me. it was for the best. I’m doing fine. and all day, I really believe myself, until a friend calls to tell me she’s so sorry but she just found out you’ve made a tinder. what comes out of my mouth is huh, but my heart is spiraling into my stomach. you always said you hated tinder. I break and leave you a sobbing voicemail. you tell me a friend made it for you while you were drunk-crying on his bathroom floor. you tell me, everything hurts and I don’t know what I’m doing. it doesn’t make me feel better.
your leaving feels a lot like a birthday party no one showed up for. which is to say, it feels like every childhood sucker punch. it feels like a game with no winners. what are we doing?
do you remember the night you pulled a man out of a burning car wreckage? and I just stood there like an idiot, mouth agape under the hum of the gas station lights. I could have sworn I was in a movie. all my life, everyone told me I’m a fucking genius, with the honors classes and the double-majoring. but I’m the girl who just stands there. I say, what do I do? with my hands turned up frantically. I’ve lived my whole life inside my head. but you? you! you with the remedy to any dilemma already living in your head. you, fixing everything in sight, mending the broken wings of birds in your bare hands, running into fires. a woman at the gas station said to me, is that your boyfriend? that’s the kind of man you ought to keep. then you got back in the car and drove me home like nothing happened.
a couple of days after we first met, we went to the same party. every time I meet other men, I find my hands shakily searching for the mace within my purse. but I followed you around like a lost child. I forgot about my mace and I told you all my secrets while we sat drinking on the kitchen counter. when I look back on that night, I remember only how much I needed it then.
the truth is, I never needed you. I never expected you. you are not the rock on which I find my bearings. you don’t own even the slightest piece of me. and the healing we both need so desperately can only be found within years of therapy and self-compassion. but the truth is, loving you feels like my bones finally finding the right skin to wear. loving you feels like a thousand of those paint-mixing videos, imprinted into my brain. loving you feels like the slow song in a concert everyone knows the words to, when you’re crying a little and looking around and realizing that, in this moment, everything in your life is perfect. everything.
aren’t you tired of this sugar weather? I know I am.
the nights are getting warmer. the milky way blinks above us like a star-crowded canyon.
come back to me.
Wanda Deglane is a night-blooming desert flower from Arizona. She is the daughter of Peruvian immigrants and attends Arizona State University. Her poetry has been published or forthcoming from Rust + Moth, Glass Poetry, L’Ephemere Review, and Former Cactus, among other lovely places. Wanda self-published her first poetry book, Rainlily, in 2018. You can find her at her website https://wandadeglane.wixsite.com/poetry or on Twitter @wandalizabeth .