That cold spring night we tripped on acid just off Mountain Avenue, lay in the makeshift parking lot outside our dormitory and stuck our sonic tongues out at the stars, I really thought you loved me and maybe you still did. We made exquisite corpses, fallen snow angels green-screened against the ice, and we kicked our legs toward the sky like birds, like sunflowers, like divine organisms in pursuit of flight. That was something I could do then, before the sickness got bad and lead settled into my limbs, before you decided you were scared and couldn’t do the whole friendship thing anymore. Juliana, I still see you in my doorway, head cocked, hair fried to the heavens from too much Rite-Aid bleach, wearing your grandpa sweater, always your grandpa sweater. You say, I guess we all have to get old at some point. I say, What the fuck are you talking about? You never get back to me. Juliana, last week I learned you broke up with your boyfriend, the one who got me hooked on light blue Spirits and tried to knock the wind back into me two years ago. I never thought it would happen. Such a sad, strange story, ours, the way it ended. In my dreams, you are living in your parents’ second home on the Maine coast, entwined as ever with your ancestral pleasures. This is what frustrates me. The white skin, the immaculate body, the reluctance to look beyond the worlds that have always been yours. The skinniness and Starbucks and weed habit financed by posing naked for the art students. You have legs that work and a body others want to see. I suppose I am jealous of you. Who can blame me? I hate him, but he loved you, and I don’t know why you did it. Why you do all this. Juliana, why the insistence on endings? Why the object impermanence, why the drunk fuck, why the birds in snow. I concede I am too soft, and I live in the past, a squatter in the attic of your part-time heart. I concede I gave you more of me than you deserved, and I concede we had fun, at least until we didn’t. Damn you and your doe-brown eyes, your private wash of Scorpio sky, that beautiful thin figure that has never seen a beating. Juliana, my insufferable birdcage heart knows nothing if not the little pieces of you that deserve some loving, still. I just don’t know if I have it in me.
Maria Gray is a poet from Portland, Oregon. Her work has been published by Hominum Journal, Counterclock Journal, Best Buds! Collective, and others. She is an alum of the Adroit Journal's summer mentorship program and Counterclock Journal's Counterclock Arts Collective, where she served as a writing fellow. Tweet her @gariamray.