On the first day I can call you mine, I cocoon my arms around you in the
heart of the kitchen. You envelop cellophane around our
picnic foods––the homemade hand-touched bread loafs as soft
as your lips, the chocolate strawberries made with as much carefulness
as our desperate kisses in halogen-lit supermarket aisles, the Caprese
sandwiches that peel back to reveal every beautiful piece my loving
God made just for you. Pour the Peach Bellini down my throat, let it settle.
My heart is full of you1 as the drunken warmth swallows
me and settles there, in this jackrabbit organ.
On your birthday, lit by the quiet dark, we all stand shoulder to shoulder
around the cake. You wear the party hat at a slight tilt, I wear my heart
pinned to my jacket sleeve. I’m no drinks in, as you become
legal age, grinning wolfishly, knowing already that there
is something sweeter in this room than the vanilla frosting
on my fingertips. You unpin that heart, and all the patchwork
until this moment splits open. I cannot exist without you2.
I don’t know, I don’t want to know who I was
before I met you. Just a month before I turn 21, I am forgetful of
everything but seeing you again. At the end of
winter, a passport misses a stamp, a heartbreak like
your face missing 27 lipstick marks.
I just miss you, in a quite simple desperate human way3. It takes
the absence of you to realize that in every bookstore,
I’d look for a collection of these love letters
to replace those torn pages I plan to give to you,
that in every song I will hear the sound of your laugh,
that in every foreign city I will look for you.
- Emily Dickinson to Susan Gilbert ↩︎
- John Keats to Fanny Brawne ↩︎
- Vita Sackville-West to Virginia Woolf ↩︎
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Tatiana Shpakow (she/her) is an anthropology student from Albuquerque, New Mexico, currently attending Kenyon College in Ohio. Her creative work has appeared or is forthcoming in HIKA, Persimmons, Anodyne Magazine, the interlochen review, and elsewhere.