When I learned someone I love killed herself,
the first thing I think is where I was when it happened.
I think about the last
thing I said to her and how many days
ago I said it. I realize how trivial words are.
The next thing I do is picture the scene as described.
I can see it to the smallest detail, the sweat on her palm,
the quiver of lips, and the dust on window ledge.
I can clearly imagine the cat hair left on the carpet
as the last thing you saw as you rested head to floor.
you were never much of a house cleaner.
It’s not long before
I start playing the what ifs,
the untuned strings of what happened,
what I should have said,
where I should have been.
Amanda, I did not answer the phone the last time you called.
I didn’t stay for one more drink after your insistent invite.
Amanda, I didn’t know your favorite color
and I can’t remember the name of your cat.
I didn’t know you spent your last birthday
alone at a bar waiting for friends who never showed.
But I remember the night we jumped the fence
and walked through the graveyard
passing a bottle between us.
You taught me the name of each of the twelve moons
and laughed at me when I forgot the lines to my favorite song.
The last time I saw you,
you grabbed my arm and said thank you.
Told me of the ten people you
called this evening I was the only one who called back,
I was the only one who showed up.
I know what it’s like to feel that alone,
to summon the courage to send a message
only to receive no reply.
I know the disappointment of misplaced loyalty.
I, too, confuse friendships with propaganda
and a kind smile for a kind heart.
I wasn’t there that night.
I didn’t follow the crumbs,
didn’t decode your hints,
I wasn’t there to save you.
But you should know,
that was the only time.
Because, now, every day
I mouth the words I should have said.
Every time I reach out I pull
your body next to mine.
I have been your champion,
your savior, every time I close
my eyes for the last 217 nights.
But you aren’t around to see the sizes of my heart.
You are gone and if you gave the foresight
to wave your flag in my direction,
I was looking the other way.
Amanda, did no one tell you the definition
of your name is “worthy of love?”
Did no one tell you “you are loved?”
Would it have mattered?
Was your mind already made up?
I don’t know if there is anything I could have done
to truly make a difference,
but I do know
I would give anything to have answered that call,
to hear you laugh at me again.
to stay for one more drink.
“For Amanda” is previously published in Anti Heroin Chic, December 2018.