art by Kirsten Kramer

Let's call it a do-over

“The family fell apart,” you say, while making a new one.

I am suspended. 

The seatbelt cuts my high-school freshman neck, 

severs it clean. Released, my head floats above. 

Mom’s head drifts too, somewhere downstream.

We are on separate vacations — from her past and my present.

*

Mom’s is long gone by the time I grab my own head and go.

“The family fell apart,” you say while making a new one.

I want to yell, but Mom’s ears are stuck on a riverbed,

while doctors try to cure my case of just-a-neck;

“It’s common, I’m afraid,” the doc says, breaking the news.

The drugs are supposed to help with the pain.

*

I see him at my friend Logan's wedding, 

standing with his girlfriend, soon to be wife.

So I abandon someone kind for a wild man.

Deep down, I can tell, we both need to yell: It’s your fault.

I feel warm, fully anchored in my seat beside him when I visit, before we fall apart.

It’s quite the set-back, my therapist says.

*

It’s going to shit with men because I lost the keys.

And I am still searching for them, the ones to our original car,

a soft top; I rip it open to see my guts still there, baking all these years.

You abandoned the machine and left me to rust in the sun.

*

I need you to remember, so we can get back in.

You drive; I sit taller now but will slouch to be realistic.

Let’s replay our roles, but end it a better way, please.

Please help me do this so I can finally stay in love.

*

I am a child.

I pirouette and dip, 

In a pale pink tutu at the father-daughter dance.

Searching, I step out in front, alone. I bow.

You don’t remember the dance; I’ve forgiven you.

*

Mom holds me after the show. 

You should be proud, she says. 

I am. I am. I am. I am floating.

That's what I always thought love felt like. 

It's more like warm milk, my therapist says.

Same time next week?

*

Thanks to my friend, Adrian Bonenberger, for editing.

 

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