I fell in love with the girl
with the glower in her eyes
and hunger in her voice
who raised her head like a beacon,
sliced diamonds with her syllables,
and walked as if she saw a destination
waiting for her, before everyone else.

I fell in love with the girl
with the mole by the side of her neck
wiry thin limbs and piano-player hands
pockmarks on her back and stubby nails,
who shoved food in her mouth
and headphones in her ears
to block out the sounds of ordinary life
but would stay up all night talking
when there were things to say on her mind.

I fell in love with the girl
who rehearsed hellos and goodbyes like business pitches
but had few friends to claim herself, citing privacy,
despite elementary school photos betraying the truth
of a laughing child who wanted to share everything with the world
but was heartbroken when they picked her piece by piece.

I fell in love with the girl
who, at twelve collected trophies like trading cards
squared her successes in a patchwork quilt on the wall,
grew up to a dim light, cramped hand, and thick notebook
and graduated top of her class, cum laude, poker-faced
for parents too busy at work to attend graduation that day.

I fell in love with the girl
who held sprite in a vodka bottle, pretending to have fun.
ignored party invites but conducted sex like foreign policy,
chessboard queen with little regard for pawns.
told men she was too busy to have them spend the night
and blocked their numbers the very next day.

I fell in love with the girl
who said she fell in love with me
yet demanded trust despite all the calls straight to voicemail
and dates swapped and canceled like a tornado, for work
and intimate contacts I noticed come to life on the side,
like a schoolyard princess still clinging to a plastic throne,
whose promises I accepted if only for the vow,
that she had never loved anyone else, ever, before.

I fell in love with the girl
who felt burned when I had touched her like
her flame had been threatened in some way,
who I saw crumple once and harden to glass forever,
and left without waiting to give an answer –
packed bags while I begged her to stay.
the one I slammed chairs against walls to get over
when she said that I had matured with her too late.

I fell in love with the girl
that I saw five years later, holding tightly onto
a career and an interchangeable face,
said that she was getting married and moving far away,
and she was sorry she had not contacted me since.

And so I fell out of love with a girl, hoping
that the one I had watched grow up from a lonely and fearful child
had somehow rewritten her story to have an ending in which
ambition no longer meant self-ostracization
and love was not synonymous with poison and pain
and that one day, the girl I fell in love with
would finally fall in love with herself again.

This poem is included in The Sophomore Year Experience poetry compilation.


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