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likely stories

you are holding her hand when it happens
both of you wandering in the maze of a crowded bookstore
she will lean you against one of the shelves
and freckle kisses in the spaces along your neck
where the ghosts of mine have taken to haunting

you’ll notice me then
as you have caught yourself doing often, these days
but not in the usual places:
hidden in leftover coffee grinds spritzed
at the bottom of your mugs,
bathing in the sleepy, silver glazes
of your bedroom’s midnight moonbeams,
reflected in the color of her eyes,
(an over-laundered, washed-out version of mine)
but you notice me there–

copies of me organized
lined up, or stacked maybe,
my name etched precisely in each of the spines
in the same way
you used to pass the time sketching fool’s gold fillings into
the holes you found in my heart

maybe the magnetism of it pulls the two of you apart,
(whether or not she feels you recoil,
it’s obvious that you do),
or maybe the color of the cover calls her name
(all the while
you’ll taste mine filling your mouth like saltwater)
she’ll run her fingertip delicately along my letters
peel open my first page and read stanzas
from a poem you will assume is about you
or her
or both of us

the theory of sequels

years later
you call me
whether you still have the numbers memorized
or written in permanent ink on the insides of your palms
more likely:
you will play a nonchalant detective
casually interrogating my old roommates for any leads
on where i might be

your fianceé will be in the other room when i answer
so your voice leaks out from low in your throat
when you manage: hey… it’s me

i wonder what she is doing
what is blissfully distracting her while you drop
desperate fishhooks through the phone line;
i imagine her as a musician, filling the halls of your home
with unknowingly romantic notes
(like the ones you used to handwrite and leave under my pillows)
or perhaps she is sitting poised in perfected silence:
an artist, painting pictures of you & her
or maybe
maybe she recites poetry in your window sills
like i used to do
picks out all the pretty lines and rhymes
that start to sound more like
me & you

i won’t be listening, not really
so you will remind me of what i said, then
back when we nearly shared the same pair of lungs
as we often shared the same bed,
having forgotten how to use either without each other–
you will remind me (and yourself) of what i said,
as though framing me guilty for your mistake
but part of me is already there
my dozing pages watching from your wife-to-be’s bookshelf
when i remind you
of all the times your hands held hers instead of mine