Julia, I haven’t seen you since October 2009
when we slipped into the balcony booth at Lalo’s
and filled our stomachs with steaming bowls
of caldo de pollo. We eyed the margarita pitchers
and you licked your fingers clean and told me
all about the new boy you were dating, how you
got caught at a bar with a fake ID, what streaks
of color you were going to put into your hair
and by the time we’d paid the bill, the city
was blue with night and dark with the shadows
of passing strangers, dusky flames lighting up their
faces, lengthening the crevices beneath their tired eyes.
I waited with you until the #8 bus came and I wrapped
my arms around your faded gray hoodie, Julia, and you were
warm beneath it – warm with laughter, with talk, with
the plans that we’d made for an Amelie movie night
complete with vodka and popcorn, pink-frosted cupcakes.
No, Julia, I haven’t seen you since 2009 because
we stopped catching one another on the train
and you stopped coming to class and answering my texts.
I dyed my hair, too. I got wasted at parties. I fell
in and out and into love again fully, haphazardly,
relinquishing nothing, greedy for absolutely everything,
everything, everything – especially your little stake
on loveliness, the claim you held over everyone’s
hearts. You were undeniably magnetic, Julia,
but it wasn’t because you promised me that, with your
connections, we could sneak into any rock concert, and
it wasn’t because you could spew out sentences of
perfect German on command. It was because you simply were.
You, unadulterated, obviously flawed, take it or leave it,
love it or hate it. The soft light I found in your eyes
called me and radiated outwards, a lighthouse yearning
for closeness in the whirlwind midst of shattering storms.
It still calls me, Julia. Your name, your voice,
the surety in your laugh beckons me, and it watches me as
I toss back and forth and try to sleep, as I try not to think about you.
Are you still holding the world together with invisible string?
I haven’t seen you since 2009 but it doesn’t matter because
you are in every bowl of soup and every margarita pitcher.
Julia, love, you are in the warmth found after rain.