A Friend from Summer Camp

A girl who wore red ribbons in her hair
took one off to tie around
the wrist of her dear friend
asking her to promise to never take it off.

It stayed there through summer, fall, and winter.
In spring, the bare-limbed trees
began to sprout green buds.

While the ribbon had withered,
turning brown and tattered,
the girl had grown three inches
and cut her hair short;
She no longer wore pigtails.

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To J, the lovesick

you who brought her to the doctor
and signed for her packages
so that her parents wouldn’t berate her
for expensive spending habits

once told me, she asked if you were in love with her

and you said no
but from then on,
it was push and pull

an isolation from other friends

this twenty-something
she had seen the color of your heart
found the pen to scribble over it
like a child vandalizing her belongings
THIS IS MINE

and still you persisted
even as you told me
where we would eat
what we would watch
what we would do

until one day I said no
and you fell silent

love or friendship
we are human beings
and not things to be used or tossed
or pulverized to fill
the gaps of other people’s wounds