I Remember


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I remember
The night I couldn’t sleep
I remember when I almost drowned
Almost—it feels week to say
Most people strain for the surface
But my feet sought the bottom

I was sitting on my bed
My hot pink, over-sized night dress
Drooping around me like a melted popsicle
The lights had gone off hours ago
Still, I couldn’t sleep

On the bunk across from mine,
You turned over and kicked off the sheets
The night was stifling

You hadn’t been asleep long
If you were asleep at all
And me, I’d been up all night
Playing my Ukulele in the basement
The same five chords I’d learned that summer
Wishing I could leave the hostel
Wander down to the river
And listen to the geese tell mocking tales

Quietly, I tiptoed ‘cross the room
And stood by your bed for a moment
Your long hair spread in waves across the sheets
Like spilled milk, firelight, or coral

Sometimes in the evenings
You’d let me play with it
I always undid what I’d done

Just a whisper, barely
Your name sounds strange to me
Did you hear it? I can’t tell
Should I speak again?

You stir and I stand closer
“Can I have a hug?” I say
“What’s wrong?” you ask
I’m scared. Scared of the surface above me
And the bottom—too far to reach.
Breathe.

I slept with you that night
Your bed was way too small
I pretended to breathe—or tried
And when I lost sight of the surface
And couldn’t touch the bottom
I laced my fingers in your hair
Something real,
Something there

I remember
Biking to your house in the winter
My fingers were cold
But I could make the ride in minutes

I never knew your house
The color of the paneling
Nor the color of your car
Just the porch lights
Always flickering

We’d sit on your couch
Eating cheap sushi with wooden chopsticks
Watching comedy shows I didn’t care for
Because I loved being with you
And I’d stay much too late
So I could fall asleep on your shoulder
Watching through closed eyes
As the porch light flickered

I’ve called you far too many times
Now, each time I dial
I hesitate
Your voice on the answering machine
Sounds foreign and exotic
I think of the geese by the river

I remember
Sitting with you on the bank, just talking
Watching the lights of the riverboats
When you told me what others think
Doesn’t matter

But now where the porch light once flickered
It’s dark
And I remember
I was drowning...

I remember
But oh how I wish
I could forget
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