let's always be friends, she said, desperate and whole,
wholly unflattering under the fluorescent light
of the women's third-floor bathroom.
i said, sure,
she can't possibly hold me to this,
we're in a bathroom, and after all,
do we even like each other now?
her cold nose pressed against my ear
in some foreign gesture of ultimate companionship
(some country, somewhere, must do this)
and before i knew it i was being kissed, by a girl,
not a girl, the girl,
the girl who was supposed to be my friend and was now
decidedly feeling me up in a bathroom
and all i wanted to do, really, was check my hair and pee.
you won't know this now, she said,
but this will be a moment that will change your life.
you will look back and you will think, she said,
that all love sprung from the loins of this single instance,
and i, she said,
i was the one who gave it to you.
i look back. i tell her now, as i step into the women's eleventh-floor bathroom, into the horrid light,
into the scrutinizing, scrupulous room
into which we deposit our most secret moments,
i tell her now although she is nowhere to be found,
you birthed a stillborn in that moment, for me to
carry to the edge of the river and grieve among the hyacinths,
as no season turned into no other season.
i carry this small death between us.
(by Halsted M. Bernard)