Since you’d be gone

on business that weekend


I decided to clean out our closet

and organize the shelves.


It was in a large plastic bin

with your yearbooks


and old newspaper clippings

yellowed with the sorrow of time.


I’m glad I didn’t find it

in our first or second year


or I might have thrown it out

behind your back


or made you burn it

like the clothes of a leper.


Inside it were faces and bodies

so beautiful and young,


captured in time and waiting

in photographs for you to remember.


I’m sorry, but I took my time

and read their letters—


so sincere I had to wipe

their tears from my own eyes.


I found it easy to smile

at your smile next to their smiles


and I was relieved that I hadn’t

tossed my own secret shoebox


like I’d considered

more than once


because I didn’t want to explain

how much these tokens meant to me


or lie, and tell you how easily

I could throw it away


if only just to prove

our love means more than all those others.


But the truth is that

we just loved these people differently


and maybe even more—

or so we thought back then


when there was no test,

like this one


to prove otherwise.




DeMaris Gaunt



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