i knew a girl once.
she said she loved the flowers
blossoming in the meadow
outside of her house.
she told me they were dandelions.
they told her they were weeds.

i loved the girl once.
she had a smile warmer than the sun,
and the stars begged her to shine softer
so their glow might not be lost.
she told me she loved me too.
when i said it back,
i told her a half-truth.

i saw the girl once,
her brilliant smile dulled
by the shadows of the man
standing over her.
at twenty-one,
he was five years our senior.
he ate the moonlight of the girl
and spat out something different,
something sad.
he called her flower and
smelled like weed.
she told me he loved her.
he told me it was a lie.

i knew a girl once.
the woman in front of me
has her face, but her eyes are
bleak and she does not smile.
a baby suckles at her breast,
a toddler pulls at her wrist.
they look like the man who
killed the girl i love,
who beat her darker than the
other side of the moon
until she didn’t know whether his
arm would hold her or ruin her.
she told me that she has missed my
presence in her life, how she wishes life
had not broken us apart.
i tell her i miss her too.

— and i love her still, perhaps i always will, j.g.