BY RUTH FOLEY
How to catalog the strangers who claimed
you, how to claim I am not one of them—that list
grows longer and you stay dead and I don’t know
how to hold you here. So let me say I remember
you at seventeen, telling a tanned boy you
were older. I remember your sanded arm,
his August fingers, you pretending you didn’t
care what he thought of you. The song you wrote
for him, your practiced irony. And I’m sorry,
I am every sorry excuse. Everything I have for you
is only mine. That’s the truth of me, the not enough
which is all I can give you now and is no choice.
I make do, wear a pendant that used to warm
at your sternum but I never saw you wear.
In the picture it is your last birthday. Maybe you knew.
I am not very good at this, or at a lot of things.
A friend tells me you live in me and I want
to punch a window. I didn’t know I would have to
keep you in the world. You are finished with me.
I cannot begin. I am legless, wicked, the gratified snick
of the latch beyond my hand the instant I recall
the key smug and useless inside on the dresser.
And what name would you choose for me?
I would ask, but then would have to speak it.