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my foot trembled on the gas the whole seven hours we left tire tracks on our memories
i was still coughing up fragments of grief, denial, and a bad cold so i took cough drops to soothe the pain i mistook the numbness for hope and suppressed each truth trying to crawl its way out tried to stop my body from expelling all its excess i held my breath until i turned blue drowned my lungs because i forgot how to let it out until it all burst from me and i lost my breath on the new jersey turnpike heading south//
i knew this was goodbye though we said see you later i tied all our sentences together so there would be no endings i should’ve said i love you but i set my breath free and it never came back to be honest, you should’ve known should’ve figured it out after we had unpacked all the boxes had made your new bed and laid in it covered ourselves with dust and all we left unsaid and both of us, afraid to kick it up into the air again afraid to make a cloud that would pour honest rain let it settle//
ask all the gods i sent each one so many prayers i burned the road map so that its smoke would reach you i sent you signs that pointed back to me i wrapped the smoke around your ankles and tried to drag you
but you know what they say if you love someone//
these days i return to the car and climb in the backseat i watch all the moments before i knew they were final i take the trip again and again watch our two ghosts flicker an over-loved vhs cassette fading from overuse here i give you back this memory it is yours to keep i don’t need it anymore tonight, i return to the car and get in the driver’s seat i drop you off, say see you later turn the key in the ignition and drive away//
Kimberly Nguyen is a Vietnamese-American poet currently living in Brooklyn, NY. She is a recipient of the Beatrice Daw Brown Prize for Poetry, and her poems have been published in Parentheses Journal, Meniscus Literary Journal, and diaCRITICS. Her latest poetry collection, ghosts in the stalks, was published last November. She is on Twitter and Instagram @knguyenpoetry.