I Try Dating Again
Your little pup zipped into my coat
as we walked through the cemetery
that day the snow fell in slow motion
& melted by the time it touched the blacktop
there was a weight to it
how you touched my arm when you looked at me
the way you’d say my name at the end of any sentence
like you were calling me
to something that might tie us to each other beyond these hours
& the kiss
I wrapped my arm around your waist
& kissed you slow
like it was the last time
& it was
but I didn’t know that then
my fingertips resting on your collarbone
only touching your skin until I wasn’t
it was only that cold Friday until it wasn’t
until it was a cold Saturday
a cold Sunday
that kiss sat in my chest like a week of Mondays
I couldn’t unfeel the moan you passed into my mouth
relief & animal
echo in the throat of my anticipation
& when you bailed
said you needed a night alone
liked me so much
but any chance I’d be into being friends
all I could do was thank you
for your honesty
& what is any moment if not just a snapshot
two women on a park bench
shoulder to shoulder
heads tilted back at a sky
blue as the hottest part of a flame
Things I don’t say in the apology email I write my ex twelve years after breaking up with her
In the dream that got me
thinking of you again,
we’re about to leave
together, from where,
I can’t tell, or I don’t know
where I am, or I wake up
too soon. Maybe we’re
at a party, usual for us,
usual for our early twenties,
your cigarettes & the hours
you spent getting ready, my inability
to refuse one more drink. Maybe
your hand is on my arm, or maybe
it isn’t, but the dream holds
the familiar feeling of no matter
where we’re headed, it’s together.
I stopped drinking years ago
& I wonder if you’d find me
boring now. Caroline, is this better
late than never? Last month,
when I landed in San Francisco,
I thought back to this same week
in 2009, the only other time
I’d been there–how we flew
across the country together
to celebrate our one-year
anniversary. That summer
you had made me a six-month
anniversary lunch, picnic
on a clean sheet on your balcony,
salmon–we ate fish then–you pulled
it from the oven covered in lemon slices,
drizzled a homemade & perfectly
tangy remoulade over it, & I listened
to its coolness hit the flesh. My appetite
insatiable & you fed me.
I was bored getting
what I needed, my grief
muscles not yet developed.
You were ready
to be someone’s wife,
& LinkedIn can’t tell me if you are
or not. You just finished grad school,
speech pathology. Your art
history degree about as useful
as my poetry one. When I fell
in love with someone else, I couldn’t
even end it, had never broken
up with anyone before, silent
crying outside your door, listening
to the dishes clinking, your hands in
& out of the hot water, your roommate
cooing at the cat. I left. You knew.
You always did. You made me
do it on the phone, dropped
a box of my things
to my roommate in exchange
for no explanation. I wrote you
a corresponding poem,
if you’re interested.
FaceTime fragments with said ex after she replies to my email
It’s you. Thank you. You’re home.
For writing me back. It’s beautiful.
I’ve been wanting to tell you. In Cincinnati now.
How sorry I am. Everything breaking.
For abandoning you. Your mother’s stroke.
I know we were young. My father’s non-apology.
Not an excuse. His garage full of tools.
I just didn’t have the tools.
Lisa Summe is the author of Say It Hurts (YesYes Books, 2021). She earned a BA and MA in literature at the University of Cincinnati, and an MFA in poetry from Virginia Tech. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Bat City Review, Cincinnati Review, Muzzle, Salt Hill, Verse Daily, West Branch, and elsewhere. You can find her running, playing baseball, or eating vegan pastries in Pittsburgh, PA, and at lisasumme.com.