For My Friend Who Is Going Away
Where I’m from we face loss
like a cut cord, like a bait car.
We were born for brooding,
for the grudge of hustle.
We live to run the traitors
out of town.
And you are not without your own buoys—
false floors, love potions;
the kind of girl who’d slam a locker door
on her finger
just so another girl will hug her,
so another girl will hold her bike helmet
when she inevitably starts to bleed.
Which is to say that some girls
are born bruised and some girls
do the bruising;
some girls are so good
their yearbook pictures
and we are only not those girls,
because dial up, because 1997,
because girl I could get you across
the whole damn Oregon Trail,
pack up the cows and ford the river,
but I could not fit our faces in a selfie
if the homecoming queen showed me how.
What I’m trying to tell you
is I’ve told tons of girls,
“If you’re going, then get going.”
Told them to meet me behind the post office,
bring their shin guards and elbow pads
though mostly I didn’t show up when I said I would,
though mostly I told my mom I had a cold.
What I’m trying to tell you is
I’ve told plenty of girls,
“Goodbye, good riddance,”
But only once have I said, “Hey,
if you’re thinking of leaving,
can I see the pictures of where you’re going?”
Only once have I said, “Hey,
can I sit with you for as long
as you decide to stay?”
SARAH CARSON was born and raised in Michigan but now lives in Chicago with her dog, Amos. Her poetry and short stories have appeared in Columbia Poetry Review, Diagram, Guernica, the Nashville Review, and the New Orleans Review, among others. She is the author of three chapbooks, and two full-length collections, Poems in which You Die (BatCat Press) and Buick City (Mayapple Press). Sometimes she blogs at sarahAMYcarson.com.