My Spine

My Spine

You hate grape tomatoes and
edamame and don’t like to watch rom coms,
and sometimes the way you look at me
makes me want to cry
because I don’t want to apologize so much.

But I am still sorry because
I would like to bury ourselves in my bed
and hide away the whole day so that
I can feel the tremors of air every time
you blink, because you have the most
beautiful eyelashes I have ever seen on a boy

Except I want to push you away as far as possible
I think China might be a good destination and
I still want you to be happy and I know that
they have dumplings there and that you
are used to leaving

I’m not crazy about plane rides because there is
always a baby crying and though I love to travel
I don’t think I would come visit because
the same thing always happens with us, but I would
hope that you would still write so that I can fall asleep

And you are my best friend because when I say yes
and nod you know that it is no before the words come
out of my mouth and you are there and ready to carry me
away and put my pieces back together
and that scares me because I have never been so broken

You laughed when I said I loved jigsaw puzzles
but I do because it is so satisfying
to actually complete something and sometimes the pattern of the pieces
look like the backs of my turtles’ shells

You know everything that is in this poem ?
and you have thought everything that I have thought ?
and the day you told me that I sit in your old math desk I got chills
and tried to lock my heart even tighter so that you wouldn’t know all my secrets

I also try to lock my mouth because
you say the funniest things and I would like to tell you
that I love you because I do but
I know it would just make everything more complicated
if I told the truth

And I wish that life had more words so that I could
express the many ways that I love you and hate you and
how I just can’t and I also wonder
why you were so shy in front of my sister and best friend
but I think it is just because you are hard to know

But I know you and I love the way that you smell spicy
so much so that I want to envelop myself in your arms and
take your hands because you have such lovely hands
that are smooth and strong and safe

It’s harder that you are my best friend because
you are my spine and everyone knows that
if your spine breaks you’re dead
but if I let you kiss me the way that I want
I think I might die

So even though it might use all of the breath I have
collected from your eyelashes
I will keep apologizing and saying I’m sorry that
I can’t, and then I will be buried alone just like they always predicted
because my heart is in two places

But falling in love is irrational and sometimes
you can love an idea and not a person and I wonder
which is which in this situation and even though I love you
I love someone else too and I want you to be my best friend forever
so that maybe I won’t have to die alone.

Irena Ehrlich, Age 16 Grade 11, Hunter College High School, Silver Key

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