by Yvonne Nguyen
Buying a house for the way
the snow huddles on the front porch
on the coldest day of the year
is like loving a sad girl
for the way her eyes crinkle when she smiles–
you won’t see it often enough
to make it worth it. But you and I bought that
sad house with the snowless front porch
because you said we could use our imagination
and that would be enough. I imagine
lifeless snowflakes piling up
in our bathroom and kitchen now.
Leaving me is not the worst part of what you did. It was leaving
parts of you behind
for me to trip over when I got up
for water in the middle of the night.
I stumble past that bruise
in the drywall that I deepened each time I wanted to hurt you instead
and my hands feel that twitch all over again
like I could set this entire damn house on fire
and instead live in the memories that you left behind for me
like worn out clothes you couldn’t bother getting rid of.
And when I flick on the kitchen lights I’m slapped in the face with that
sticky orange paint you let me pick out. Now, I never question what color regret is.
Memories crash in on each other
like burning buildings and suddenly I’m living in a minefield
of nostalgia terrified that
at any moment I could be struck
with remembering. That excruciating and familiar
warmth. It’s like forcing whiskey down
a recovering alcoholic’s throat,
it goes down so easy but
I can’t want that burn anymore.
Yvonne Nguyen is a recent graduate of the University of Virginia, currently teaching English Language Arts in Richmond, Virginia. “Minefield” And “The Places We Inhabit” were first published in Call Me [Brackets]. Recently, her poem “I Would’ve Called Her Honey” was shortlisted for the Brain Mill Press Poetry Month Award. Other works of hers can be read in The Roadrunner Review, Down in the Dirt, Bewildering Stories, Ginosko Literary Magazine, Yes Poetry, and Plainsongs. Her work has also been nominated for the 2019 Best of the Net Award and the 2020 Pushcart Prize. Upcoming work of hers may be read in the Corpus Callosum Press.