When I walk in, it bombards me
with cologne and old songs
and Polaroid memories
I should have lost by now.
Orange jackets and Kroger uniforms
are framed like championship jerseys,
though I never won a thing in this place.
I watch the boy with blue eyes
making out with whats-her-face
and I am fourteen again,
my face red-hot.
The caption reminds me
that I spoke to him twice.
Then I'm in biology class,
gaining a practical lesson in my own desire
for the boy I've known since third grade
but am somehow seeing for the first time.
I taste envy as he looks upon the curly-haired sweetheart.
The caption says they broke up years ago
and he's a married doctor now.
Dingy brown carpet covers the hallway
full of college guys who fell in love
with girls that weren't me.
Despite my bold invitations
and love notes under doors,
I lie on the thinnest foam, still alone.
The next room plays a slideshow
of nights I was too drunk for shame
and reaching out for bodies in the dark.
A cigarette butt last seen in Dublin
is encased with the caption:
The closest you ever got
to a kiss you really wanted.
The last hallway is almost empty
except for a tape recorder.
I don't need to read the caption
to know that you left
never knowing what you did to me.
I press play
to hear your voice one last time
and let my heart collapse in on itself.
A/N: This is revised from my NaPo 2018 here.