When I Knew I Could Love You

The night before I left
I lay beside you for hours
listening to your breaths swim
in and out
I imagined your tongue
curling in a way that suggested
there was somewhere for it to go,
and I could tell that it was trying to find
the parts of me that
I wouldn’t let you touch

Sleep was devious that night
ducking around corners,
between the spindly parts of my brain
where I cannot turn my eyes
So in the meantime
I thought of what I wanted to do
when I grew up and wondered
if I was too old
to still be saying that
I composed poetry in my head
stringing words together
like I had just learned how to do it
and desperately promising myself
that this time
I would remember them in the morning
I thought of someone I used to know
(still know)
and how I prefer the effect that you have on me
Your fingers are warmer against my skin

I’m still lying in the dark
wanting to peel back my skin for you
and let you lick the marrow from my bones
But all I can do at the moment
is brush my lips against the stubble on your jaw
and wonder selfishly at your dreams

Elizabeth May Young is a full-time student at Sarah Lawrence College with a passion for literature and poetry. She devotes much of her time to navigating New York City and working as a teacher’s assistant for America Reads.

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