Becca Human

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[Copic markers and pencil on paper. 9 in by 12 in. Illustrated by Katharen Hedges.]

On The Occasion Of Graduating High School And Realizing That In Two Months You’ll Be Leaving The Best Friends You’ve Ever Had

Reminiscing has become our favorite pastime.

Half our sentences start with the word

remember

these days,

like we’re trying to hold onto something.

I’ve written this poem four times. I can’t hold onto anything

that describes what it’s like to be leaving.

But here’s a try:

we are driving down the highway,

windows down, music up,

this is how it has always been.

Sarah searches for a new song, and Alex,

driving, comments she won’t have a car in two months.

Alexsei says she won’t be in Nebraska in two months.

We know this. Hardly any of us are staying here.

We have the states memorized:

Iowa, South Dakota, Illinois, Missouri, Georgia.

A mantra.

Sarah stops, as if the music won’t cooperate,

and it’s just wind whipping through and around us. We don’t say anything for a while

and it feels empty.

This is what it feels like:

meeting up with Rachel, Jenna, and Liza at Village Inn.

Summer joins us, late as usual,

steals food off our plates,

this is how it has always been.

Our waitress, familiar after years of Free Pie Wednesdays,

asks us about our summers;

all our stories have the same ending.

Our waitress says she’ll miss us.

Who else, she says, will cram into this corner booth?

This is what it feels like:

I haven’t known loneliness since the seventh grade.

I’m not ready to meet it again.

For now, we are warding it off with the weapons we are familiar with:

Wal-Mart parking lots,

Village Inn hash-browns,

concert tickets and exhaustion.

I know this can’t last forever.

I’ve been thinking a lot about expiration dates. How they

shout up from the backs of milk cartons

and friendships. About how

you can’t ignore them. They are not a

suggestion. They are a reality.

Still, this is one I would rather forget.


On Opposite Cities

I am a citizen of two cities. They sit

opposite each other, inversely and directly

proportionate, I am a member of both at once,

I never know which one will greet me

when I wake up.

On some days, I wake to the gray steel

and smooth silence of Solitude.

I walk the streets and find nothing but

quiet, and the buildings are made of

iron that is cold and somehow soft to the touch.

Sitting in Solitude is to recharge. To find peace in the

emptiness. When I am here,

I am finding myself.

Other days, there is a shout or a crack,

and my eyes open to loud colors,

bright noises seeping through thin walls.

The streets of Company are full of walking disasters

pretending as people. They call to me

and pull me in, there is always

dancing and singing and

music blasted from the tops of towers.

Company is adrenaline, freedom, danger.

When I am here,

I am losing myself.

When the sun drops lower towards the horizon,

things change.

Solitude’s silence becomes threatening,

a low hum of paranoia,

the iron buildings cast long shadows

and it feels like weakness,

it feels like loneliness.

Company’s colors fade,

the sun falls faster and the brightness melts into black,

nothing has harmony. It is chaos,

it is overwhelming.

When the night falls,

I leave the cities

and walk into the desert

where I can see them as what they are,

both looming over the sand and the heat,

opposite and balanced.

I sit cross-legged.

This is where, a citizen of two opposites,

forever enfolded in contradictions,

I let myself be.

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