A Poem By Katharine Blair
What if, you say, and I lean, resigned, into the pain
of it. We’ve been playing this game for two years and it never
gets any easier. Loving long distance, I’m learning, is so much about the spaces
inbetween. Half of us held in lost letters and abandoned
texts, and small joys that came and went too quickly
to share, and so much of the rest
to say. A year later, I’ve still not told you my last memory
of your city is weeping in a stall of the airport washroom. For the loss
and the gain and because, as I sat on the molded plastic of my exit gate chair, two men took
it upon themselves to share their hate of you with the room. They were on about safety
and washrooms and ‘real’ this and ‘our daughters’ that, and I couldn’t stand
in that moment, the way the twisted metal of our chair legs connected
me to them. To that. I’m not good
at composure when my people are threatened.
You know that, love. I did my best.
My crumpled wrapper fell at their feet and I hid myself
in their imagined warzone to cry. And text J—not you. Never you.
You know I shield you at all cost—in search of a better final souvenir
of your home. Something that would give me the strength to leave you
in it. He offered me the people who love you in my absence and I’d like to say
that didn’t make it worse but I’ve promised
you I’ll never lie. When you told me the apartment smelled like me,
asked if mixing cold meds and alcohol was okay
when you’re sad, I told you anything is okay when you’re sad.
But what do we do with the fear?
What if. What if we built cabins side by side and hid
inside them forever? What if we rented a bike and rode
down the coast? What if I could find a way to keep you
safe? What if, what if letting pieces of my heart wander
wasn’t so dangerous? What if I could bring them all back here to me.