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"Summer Love"


Artwork by Michelle Dong, staff artist

I fiddle with the car radio while I sit in the passenger seat.

His hand rests on the leather-bound steering wheel, turning—

‘July Four—’

Turn.

‘Record high for this week—’

‘krshsk-’

Static.

I give up when the radio croons to the tune

Of some love song I’m already forgetting.


We pass by wildflowers and weeds scorned by the litter

of a wasteful world. They’re free

But he drives on because there is no prestige in plucking them.


I only pity the expensive flower he bought me.

Not because its petals never felt his touch

When he dropped it into my hands and took roses off his checklist.

But because it’s wilted in the glass coffin of the bowl under my mirror

And yet it does not know how to fall to the wind.


On the way home, I gather petals of his secret life

And take to relearning the boy I thought I knew.

I want to show him the flowers I caught in my fists,

But his eyes are ahead on the glint of the next signpost to success.


We pull into the driveway. The white paint on his car gleams like dew.

Afterwards, I close the door and listen to the house

wonder which field he gathered this pretty girl from.

I watch the wildflowers and weeds just beyond the trees

And wish I didn’t stand alone besides the stained glass.


On the way home, I prune back the words of my secret life.

I cut sentences at the stem when he’d rather not hear them

Over the rumble of the engine.


He rolls down our glass windows from the driver’s seat

So he can feel something, but there is no breeze.

A hot summer of all stillness and meaninglessness.

After all, there was neither rhyme nor reason for any of it.

My hand lingers on the radio, letting it replay

where we left off.

‘But, we’ll see the world, won’t we—’



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