the dream

most days it is as though i never knew you.
i screamed and thrashed and woke from the dream
unscathed. opened my eyes in brand new light.
i wish you would have left a mark, somewhere secret:
the underside of my knee, the precipice of my scalp,
the jagged slot between my front teeth.

if i don’t remember you, did it happen at all?
like fingers out a car window, air that slips through.
my friends ask why i photograph the buildings,
capture every inch of brick and mortar, but i can’t
breathe without permanence. i go over it again and again:
the party in april, sixteen years old, irregular breathing.
your arms around me for the first time,
the last time. they left no indentation.

now i see you in blurry crowds. your fingers crawl
across my back when rain drips down my window.
i breathe you in on the overpass, peering down
at the lights below. you exist everywhere but in the flesh,
and maybe that is all you ever were: fleeting,
fictitious.

Zoe Cunniffe is a poet and singer-songwriter from Washington, DC. She has previously been published in literary journals such as Velvet Fields, Trouvaille Review, Meniscus and The Showbear Family Circus, and she can be found on Instagram at @there.are.stillbeautifulthings.

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