Ode to an Ex-Me

Ode to an Ex-Me
by Madeline Levine
You got my email yesterday
I know cause Big Brother told me so.
I practiced that message over and over
Till I could take that Draft (1) no more—
You know they color that number bright red
To make sure I remember,
How could I forget?
Right now I catch myself
Feeling for those decals
You stuck under the chairs
I can’t remember why,
I think it was a compromise.
Like the showers you’d take
Cold as ice
Saying when you got out
The world was so warm.
I like to say your problem
Was how you’d mix traffic lights up with Christmas.
The red, the green, the bright, the pause and go—
I guess I see your point.
Sometimes I liked when we’d read together
Set up camp by the fire,
And you’d make us tea
So achingly sweet
And save your gum
In a napkin for later,
I think it was a compromise.
But then you’d tell me lies
Like how the day goes by on its own
And how you hate the sun because really,
Where’s the poetry in satisfaction?
Truth is, you were just too sad
To get out of bed.
You’d tell me those stories
With a head full of grittiness
About Voltaire and Vonnegut
And how Nirvana smells like basements.
Thoughts that seemed so fucking crucial
In the dark.
You liked to find metaphors
In graffiti tours downtown.
In the smell of deli meat
Wafting up from the bodega downstairs.
Sometimes I sat for you still and naked
So you could paint my ass dimple and my left-pointing nipple
Capture the ‘rawness’ of my ‘asymmetry’
But you never painted my frown.
I let you do it only because of the way that you sat.
Legs crossed so tight, a frightened little kid
And it would catch me off guard
And freeze the fight in my throat.
I wrote you this email
And it wasn’t a compromise.
I’m not surprised you didn’t respond
You hate technology.
Also I think I mentioned
That our apartment does smell like bacon
And there’s nothing symbolic about it.
Babe, we didn’t work out.
And it’s not cause you’re vegetarian.

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