Wake up one morning
And it’s been two decades down the drain.
You turn nineteen to the quiet clatter
Of someone else’s heartbreak.
Here you are again, back in the summer
You learned how to kiss with tongue,
How to keep a hair elastic on your wrist
In someone else’s bed, how to order a cocktail
As men eight years older than you tell you how mature you are.
Here, in the city where fathers in hard hats call you
Kawaii accountant on your way to Koreatown,
You slide back into someone else’s skin.
Maybe this is girlhood. One long descent into being desired,
Open season in the mounting heat.
Maybe the older men, the months of fruitless flirtation,
Are gunshots and you’re just the game.
Someone wanted you then. You started
A lot of things that he had to end.
At the bottom of the summer, deep dish pizza
Cooling on the stove, he drove you for hours
Out of and into the city again.
You could’ve walked away. You didn’t.
You thought about it for nine months.
At night, you dreamt of sticky floors and twin-sized beds,
Rooftop bars and basement karaoke, the streets
Unwinding like Cretan thread against the ceiling.
This time, you come to the city unchanged – more expensive jeans,
Better bars and better orders, but still the same
Bruised apple heart. You see him in the ear-popping elevators,
At the expensive coffee machine. You know he doesn’t drink coffee.
He knows you don’t either. Somehow he finds you there anyway,
Slowly stirring his tea as you look out the window.
Every two weeks, you end up at his pub, staring
Across the patio as the bar brings you the same
Watered-down drinks as last year.
He still lives down the street.
At night, you lay awake itching with it.
It’s July 2023. You just turned twenty years old.
The garbagemen come every morning at six
And the sirens scream along University as you walk
Down the stairs to the subway.
You know what you want. The question, as always,
Is if you can have it.