Reading: The Poem of All Poems, To End All Poems

We met by accident
and I wonder what I would be feeling at this moment instead
if I had only gone to New York the previous summer, like I should have
if you were never in that math class, or whatever it was
If your parents never met–there’d be no you
If my parents’ parents never met–maybe I’d be better

We discussed these things sometimes, but agreed nothing happens for a reason
yet in our searches and creations, I made you all of mine
It was as if everything that had ever happened in the history of time
was in preparation for:
the silly songs on the radio I knew you could hear too
every blue sky that was a souvenir
the winter day I was in Maryland with you, heated rooms like heaven
a summer afternoon when you told me you could have liked me a lot

Could have
But I know you did, even when it was wrong
Distance was a shield from truth
And if there was a God where we existed, that God was no musician
Because timing is a thing,
and you were living in a different meter
Eventually, I was only your offbeats

So what if the universe had taken just one, small step in the other direction?
Then maybe,
July wouldn’t have been poems about getting high
August wouldn’t have been picnics and storms in New Hampshire
September wouldn’t have been about longing
October wouldn’t have been about trying to make things different
November, I really should have stopped myself by now
December, I couldn’t
So I kissed other people in January to not forgive, but forget
Because you never showed up in Pennsylvania
Left me half furious, a fourth in love,
a quarter lost on Walnut and Broad

May is just a rainy day or two
and I wouldn’t even be thinking about that
if it weren’t for how I handled you
I’m trying to blame it on the INFJ,
right brain, 1800s piano,
big jet planes
I’m more or less a crazy person
Because girls are persons too
But I think it’s worse than that–
being the other girl,
even the times you never let me know
just kept the two of us beaming
It was because you cared too much, you said
I call b.s.

I don’t exactly know who “they” is, but they say it’s easiest to write while you’re loving someone
I don’t want to anymore
The ink in my pens have been bleeding for your curly brown hair for too long,
and you know I’m a sucker for brunettes
But what else do you know about me now?

You don’t know that I’ve been noticing my breath, planning trips to the South,
listening to Showtek
You don’t know that deep breathing doesn’t work when I’ve let you become the air around me,
that I remember you wanting to travel, knowing you just needed to run away
Next month I’ll be dancing without you at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway
And you will never know that I won’t think about you then

You don’t know that I’ve been writing to remember,
but this time I’m writing to forget
I don’t think I’ll be writing about you again
when I can start to wake up without the contour of your name in my lashes–
I treasure the minutes that will someday become all the time
When shampoo is just shampoo, without your cotton scent
When insomnia is not profound, and pillows are just as pleasant
without the imprint of your head

So maybe this moment is an accident,
along with everything that happened after “Hi”
But no, I won’t think about the “what if”s and “could have been”s
when I’m looking at calendars and maps
Because I don’t need to lose myself in people who are no longer homes,
don’t need to lose my mind
Our parents, the struggle that is math,
New York, and feelings,
they all happened
There is a you
There is an I
And this is an end

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